Singles ignore wish list when choosing a date

It appears daters don’t know what they want when hunting for a match online, a new study from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and RSVP has found.

The University in conjunction with the online dating site found that when it comes to contacting people online, most daters reach out to those who bear no resemblance to the characteristics they say they want in a mate.

This insight was discovered in a study entitled: ‘Preference vs. Choice in Online Dating’, which was conducted by QUT’s behavioural economists Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler. Throughout the project, the pair looked at whether people contacted those who matched the criteria they said they were looking for in their profile, and the findings found they don't. “Stating a preference for what you are looking for appears to have little to no bearing on the characteristics of people you actually contact,” Mr Whyte said. The research saw the QUT team analyse the online dating preferences and contact behaviour of more than 41,000 Australians aged between 18-80, using data from the online dating website RSVP, with the findings now being published by leading international journal ‘Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking’. “How people go about finding a partner is changing dramatically thanks to the internet. Where once we were limited to settings such as school, work, social gatherings or local night spots, there is a much wider choice at hand online. “The psychology employed by humans choosing a mate can definitely be environmentally sensitive, and the nature of online dating is triggering changes in underlying preferences and decision behaviour of those involved,” Mr Whyte added. Mr Whyte went on to outline that while disclosure of “ideal” partner preferences is a widely offered and commonly-used option for people creating a profile on online dating websites, whether it’s effective or useful in helping people find that special someone is still unclear. CEO of RSVP Dave Heysen explained that RSVP serves members with daily matches based on what they’ve entered as their ideal partner criteria into the site, but also prompts people to ‘discover’ daters who may not fit all their criteria, but are definitely worth connecting with. “Members come in with a preconceived idea of what their ideal partner for a date would be. So, we created an algorithm which draws in data from previous successful member contacts and conversations on RSVP, we call it “Discover” and it delivers our recommended members who they may have missed if they were simply relying only their wish list.”

“So, our advice for daters is to get discovering, because they may meet someone who ticks boxes they didn’t even know they wanted,” Mr Heysen added.

The research is the largest ever behavioural economic analysis of Australian online dating behaviour, with this body of work reviewing 219,013 participant contacts by 41,936 members of RSVP during a four-month period in 2016. “This study provides unique findings in that people may state a preference for an ideal partner, but they are more than happy to initiate contact with potential love interests that bear no resemblance whatsoever to that “Mr or Mrs Perfect” that they initially think they prefer over all others,” Mr Whyte said. “It’s really encouraging findings for people searching for that special someone online.”

For more information please contact Amanda Weaver from QUT Media via or RSVP via

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