Sex and Dating ProductsA short review on the fundamentals of interpersonal attraction* And how to abuse them via product features -Patrick McGrath, July 2012
Psychology Disclaimer:• The field of social psychology is largely based on empirical evidence supported by correlation. Correlation – the observation of a statistical relationship between two variables. IE, sometimes when X happens, Y also happens.• Correlation is not to be confused with causation. The principles presented within do not always occur given the predicated actions. They just occur enough of the time to have a significant confidence that there is a likelihood they exist together.• In stats, a .5:1 relationship is considered a ‘mid to strong’ relationship. As in, variable a occurring every other time that variable b occurs.
Social Exchange Theory• Social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties.• We run an internal cost-benefits analysis when examining the subjective value of a potential relationship – romantic or otherwise.• Think of your current or previous job. Your employment fulfillment is generally defined by its relationship to your available alternatives. By the same token, performance generally dwindles when you are halfway out the door.• More alternatives generally lowers the subject fulfillment of your current situation. ‘Grass is greener’ mentality.
Social Exchange Theory (cont’d)• Satisfaction = Outcome – Comparison Level• Comparison Level = Outcome relative to expected outcome based on past experiences.• The issue with online dating – we allow users too many alternatives! Thus causing them to devalue what they have in front of them.
Product Ideas:• Add diminishing returns to the Match % of a photo reel relative to amount of messages sent that day.• First message (for men) free, the rest compound in cost.• Educate user base to the drawbacks of having too many alternatives• ?
Labeling and Framing• The tendency for people to act / behave in a way that allows them to maintain or inflate ego by identifying themselves as above average.• In an effective demonstration of this strategy, researchers Alice Tybout and Richard Yelch (1980) showed how the labeling technique could be used to increase the likelihood that individuals would vote on Election Day. They interviewed a large number of prospective voters, and randomly told half of them that, based on their responses, they could be characterized as "above-average citizens likely to vote and participate in political events." The other half of the interviewees were informed that they could be characterized as about average in terms of these interests, beliefs, and behaviors. Those respondents given the label as being a good citizen and as having a high likelihood of voting not only came to see themselves as better citizens than those labeled as average, but they also were more likely to vote in an election held one week later
E-mails don’t lie, do they?* *Not for me, they don’t
Product Ideas:• Manipulate user base by making them believe they will be ‘above average’ for completing an action.• Potential flow : New user – congratulations, based on your profile information, you seem to have a much higher chance at not dying alone if you commit yourself to a subscription!• This is obviously too forward, and likely has to be either – Broken out into segments via CRM – Timed events based on average user engagement numbers
Implicit Egotism• People are disproportionately likely to marry others whose last names resemble their own*• Demonstrated via: – Shared surnames – Similar birthday numbers / months – Jersey number paired subliminally to own name *‘How do I love thee? Let me count the J’s: Article
Product Ideas:• New dating / social product – populate fake user base dynamically with profiles that represent iterations on the users own name / birthday. Done via illiteration or prefix/suffixing.• IE: Patrick McGrath: – Patty Mayonaise – Patricia McKensie – Erica McGraw (Born in October)
Mere Exposure Effect• People tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them.• Branding – the reason Coke marketing execs are allowed to spend hundreds of millions of $ on brand oriented advertising with no reliable tracking mechanism
Mere Exposure Effect (Attraction)• People self-report the *assumption* of higher levels of liking the more familiar they are with someone.• Reality? Studies show that, particularly within romantic relationships, liking goes down after people find a dissimilar interest before meeting face to face.
Mere Exposure Effect (Sex)• College dorm study / office workplace studies – In co-ed workplaces and dorms, people are much more likely to engage in sexual activity with each other directly correlated to how close they live to / work to one another. ‘Familiarity does indeed promote attraction via live interaction’ Article
Product Ideas:• Many are already seen, in the form of purely availability: – Online now! Buttons – Lying about distance of partner
Matching in Physical Attractiveness• People tend to pair together with people they are similarly as physically attractive as.• The closeness in SD of objective physical attractive eventually predicts success/longevity of relationship
Product Idea:• As a user engages with someone of equal physical attraction (considering the marketplace, and relative CTR of profile image), hit them with more subscription / micro transaction CTAs before they engage ($$) OR label / frame them with a CRM e-mail: You two look like a great match!• The latter – greater product satisfaction, word of mouth. The former -
Women Dig Taken Men• Women screened on idea of ‘ideal’ mate partner.• 59% of Women tested (P<.05) were interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with the man.• When another group of Women was tested with the assumption that the man was taken, 90% of the Women were interested in pursuing a relationship ‘Who is chasing whom? The impact of gender relationship status on mate poaching” Article
Product Idea:• Above a certain match % (testing required) on a dating site, label the man as ‘responds selectively’ to messages, or suggest that he is in a relationship (CRM, site popup?)
Women ovulating = ONS*• Countless research shows that women choose their men with a one night stand in mind during the 4-6 days of ovulation each month. – Fitness, masculinity, ‘V’ shaped body type – Higher sex drive ‘during’ period – eliminated by the discomfort – Solution? Be a good boyfriend: www.goodvibes.com *Horrible product idea – supposing we operate a ‘cleanwhistle’-esque property, and eventually facilitate birth control prescriptions, we can predict to a degree when a female user is ovulating, and thus ping high potential match % men that she is ‘interested in you’ or has ‘checked out your profile’
Misattribution of Arousal• Our tendency to mistake our assumption of what is causing us to be aroused* – Arousal – defined as a feeling of elation, and being aware or awake and reactive to stimuli – Classic study – ‘Love on a Bridge’. Subjects found themselves more attracted to and likely to rate higher in objective attraction female confederates after traversing a narrow and swaying bridge as opposed to a stable bridge. • Coffee dates – caffeine stimulates the limbic system, a large player in our appetite satiation. ‘Love on a suspension bridge’ Article
Performance Anxiety • Our creator had a good chuckle to himself when he crafted our nervous systems.• Parasympathetic vs Sympathetic – why performance anxiety kills the ‘mood’• Sympathetic – cortisol, fight or flight, anxiety…when our body prepares itself for fight or flight, it flushes our system with cortisol to prepare for the engagement.• Shuts of PSNS, diverts blood flow from ‘mood’
Oxytocin• Called many things – ‘bonding chemical,’ ‘Love drug’• We only have one DNA ancestor who also owns this brain abnormality – Bonobos monkeys• Women secret much larger amounts of oxytocin than men, which has the following consequence: – Stimulation of milk ejection – Stimulation of uterine contraction – Establishment of maternal behavior Evolutionary researchers believe that this hormone exists purely as a mechanism to attach a birthing mother to her young – Women produce an enormous amount of oxytocin at child birth
Stimulating Oxytocin• Physical touch• Hugging / Cuddling• Sexual Arousal• Orgasm – many exponential factors higher
Dopamine and Sex for Men• Men produce the most amount of dopamine during sex after longer periods of abstinence, or new partners.• Men produce less dopamine as a result of non-novel encounters over time.• IE – Keep it novel, keep them wanting, or give them much more of it to produce the same level of addiction.
Sex and Jealousy• Long time hypothesis – men are more jealous of a shared body (pure sex) where as women are more jealous of a shared mind (emotion)• While Women are disproportionately more forgiving than Men of a sexual indiscretion, both Men and Women are more jealous of emotional infidelity compared to sexual infidelity. ‘Sex differences in Jealous: A contribution from Attachment Theory’ Article
So, with what you have learned – what is the ideal date situation?