VSE student wins national award for online dating research
People looking for a second shot at love are more likely to use online dating services and keep an active profile while even in a committed relationship, according to new undergraduate research from the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.
Divorced, separated and widowed people had a higher propensity to maintain an online profile even when they were seeing someone new.
“It is sentimentally disappointing but also sympathetically understandable,” wrote Sibyl Song, who graduated with her BA in Honours Economics this past spring. “Because a broken heart may not firmly believe in love anymore.”
This was one finding of many to come out of Song’s capstone project at UBC. Spurred by an interest in matching theory, a branch of economics that involves a mathematical framework to explain the forging of mutually beneficial relationships, Song examined the reasons why people choose to date online.
For Song, online dating is a lot like looking for a job.
“In the job market, we use online search engines to match us with positions that fit our skill set, employers who share our values, or jobs in certain locations,” she said. “Online dating is a similar matching market.”
Song’s research also investigated whether online dating sites, which use algorithms to match potential partners, proved better at helping people find love than those who met offline. She found that where people meet initially – online or offline – seemingly had no bearing on the relationship outcome.
Song’s research on online dating usage garnered her a national 2017 Bank of Canada student award, winning for best poster presentation. Fellow VSE student, Nelson Wong, won for best undergraduate student paper in Canada and PhD candidate Pierluca Pannella won for best graduate student paper in Canada. The awards were presented at the 51st Canadian Economics Association Conference in Antigonish, Nova Scotia earlier this month.
Song plans to return to the VSE in the fall for her MA in Economics.