Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OkCupid and "The REAL Stuff White People Like"

The other day my homie Bonoboboy sent me a link to this story, at the blog of dating site OkCupid, and it is a quite fascinating post.

By analysing enormous amounts of data, the writer and his people were able to analyse the various racial categories of people who use that site, and then break down which interests and traits were most common to each racial category. Thus they have worked out the things that white people like, what black people like, as well as Asians, Latinos, Indians, Pacific Islanders and Middle Easterners. It is conspicuously US-centric so I'm not sure if they are factoring in non-USians as well.

We selected 526,000 OkCupid users at random and divided them into groups by their (self-stated) race. We then took all these people's profile essays (280 million words in total!) and isolated the words and phrases that made each racial group's essays statistically distinct from the others'.

So if you are wondering if certain stereotypes are true about the various ethnicities, you might find some validation here, or some surprises. And you can measure yourself against their findings to determine how close you are to the mainstream tastes of your ethnicity.

Do bear in mind the context: this is only about the sort of people who frequent OkCupid (whoever they are - I guess it is somewhat representative of the broader population), and relies on what people say about themselves (which may not always be as accurate as you would hope). I don't know how much stock anyone should put in any of this, but it's an amusing and enlightening read, and makes me wonder about what I'd need to pretend to be interested in in order to hook up with women of different races. Not that I would ever do such a thing.

Some things I found interesting:

"Philippines" and "Filipino" pops up a lot under the Pacific Islander category, but not at all in the Asian category. Which shows what I believe to be an almost entirely US phenomenon of Filipinos seeing themselves as not being Asian.

The analysts rate the Indians' profiles as being the most sophisticated. How they measure this I have no idea, although it does correlate with Indians being the most highly educated immigrant group in the US.

The people who described themselves as the most serious about religion also correlated with the least sophistication in profile essays; this trend is true or mostly true for all religions.

The second most typical phrase for black men was "I am cool". Which is pretty funny. If I tell people I'm cool, will they just accept me at my word?

White people really like "boating". I never really thought about that.

My favourite few lines of the post: "I have to say that the mind of the white man is the world's greatest sausagefest. Unless you're counting Queens of the Stone Age, there is not even one vaguely feminine thing on his list, and as far as broad categories go we have: sweaty guitar rock, bro-on-bro comedies, things with engines, and dystopias."

Asians are REALLY into food ("a foodie", "food", "pho", "sushi", "sashimi", "noodle", "asian food", "cookbooks", "cooking and baking", "food network" and "chocolates" are all among their list of most typical key words). And if you figured that Asian men were studious and focused on getting a "good job", then these stats prove you right. Appearing in their list of most typical words were "software developer", "mechanical engineer", "pursuing my", "an engineer", "entrepreneur", "analyst", "finance", "accountant", "investing", "investment", "electrical engineering" and "currently studying". By contrast, the white male and female lists of most typical words do not contain a single term relating to their career or studies.

Other (stereo)typical words that appear on the Asian lists: "gadgets", "surfing the net", "computer games" and "my cellphone".

Indian men liked cricket far above and beyond anything else. If you know any Indian men you are unlikely to be surprised at that. Indian men are also as focused on careers and studies as (East) Asian men, if these lists are any indication: they include "software engineer", "an engineer", "MBa", "finance", "exams", "investment", "trading", "analyst", "maths", "entrepreneur" and "consultant".

Black women are seemingly the most religious out of all the groups. On their list you'll find the typical words "God-fearing", "gospel", "The Lord", "God's plan", "my church", "God and family", "God's love", "to church", "blessings" and "faith in God".

MUSICAL TASTES: Some things are completely unsurprising; white males like "mostly rock". Black males are into rap, and black women are into neo-soul and R&B.
Other stuff is not quite so obvious; Middle Eastern women are really into Nina Simone, Cat Power and Manu Chao. In contrast with Middle Eastern men who are more likely to like "Nickelback and electronic music".

READING TASTES: White males really like Tom Clancy novels. Like, REALLY; it's the most typical word for them. Both Indian and East Asian men really like reading "Freakonomics". (And why not, it's an awesome book, and is very relevant to this whole post.) Indians and Middle Easterners are unified by their love of "The Kite Runner", although whether that's the book or the movie is unclear.

If I were picking a prospective female mate based solely on the most typical words in these lists, I'd have to go for... Middle Eastern women. Based on this, they seem quite interesting! ( I mean, I'm sure they are interesting in real life too.)


  1. I find these findings funny but not surprising. The one about black women and religion is true but sad.

  2. As a black woman who is not religious can't say I'm surprised by the overt religiosity of the black women on OKCupid.

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