Equilibrium & Sustainability

Climate change is biggest ‘dealbreaker’ on popular dating app

A person looks at the OkCupid app on their phone
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Opinions surrounding climate change are the biggest “dealbreaker” out of several topics when it comes to finding a match on the popular dating app OKCupid, new data from the company shows.

Among 250,000 users surveyed worldwide over the past year, OKCupid found that 90 percent of daters said that it’s “important” for their match to care about climate change.

Meanwhile, among 6 million users surveyed over the past three years, 81 percent of daters said they were “concerned” about climate change — topping other potential dealbreaker issues like gender equality and gun control.

“We have just seen over time, climate change being more and more this huge topic for our millennials daters especially,” Jane Reynolds, director of product marketing at OKCupid, told The Hill. “People feel that with climate change, it says so much more about you — if that’s something that you believe in and are concerned about.”

OKCupid’s dating app employs a matchmaking algorithm that asks users a variety of multiple-choice questions on everything from the mundane to current events issues, according to the company.

“One of our questions is, ‘Cilantro, yes or no?’” Reynolds said, noting that while such a question can be a “good conversation starter,” it won’t usually “make or break” whether a user decides to date a potential match.

The network has thousands of questions that feed into this algorithm, with new queries popping up each week, Reynolds explained.

Data scientists at OKCupid also cross-reference responses to determine how users who react a certain way to one question might answer other questions, according to Reynolds. Such knowledge, she said, can help reveal to daters what else they might learn about a potential match just by knowing one thing about the person.

Over the past year, 250,000 individuals worldwide answered the question “Is it important that your match cares about the environment?” Ninety percent of the respondents said that it’s important for their match to care about the planet, while women were 7 percent more likely than men to care, according to the data.

There were no significant differences among age groups, and responses were fairly homogeneous on both the East and West coasts of the country — with 94 percent of San Francisco daters citing this as a dealbreaker, 90 percent in New York, 90 percent in San Diego, 89 percent in Los Angeles, 88 percent in Washington, D.C., and 85 percent in Miami, OKCupid reported.

As for the question, “Are you concerned about climate change?”, 81 percent of daters expressed concern about climate change, with women 7 percent more likely than men to be concerned.

Millennials, who dominate OKCupid’s user base, were the generation most concerned about climate change, with 83 percent of these daters replying in the affirmative to this question, according to the data.

Both East and West Coast users expressed high concern about climate change, with 93 percent of daters answering affirmatively in San Francisco, 86 percent in New York City, 86 percent in San Diego, 85 percent in Los Angeles, 84 percent in Washington, D.C., and 74 percent in Miami.

Evaluating these figures, Reynolds acknowledged that OKCupid is “a progressive app” and does tend to attract individuals who are “more open-minded and concerned” about topics like climate change. 

“We’re everywhere around the world and in the U.S., but we certainly lean to more metro areas,” she said.

While Reynolds explained that OKCupid doesn’t publish its total subscriber numbers since it is a publicly traded company, she said that the site is “responsible for about 4 million matches every week.” The consumer data analytics firm Statista showed that OKCupid was the fifth most popular U.S. dating site in 2019, with 1.79 million subscribers — trailing behind Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish and Match.com.

Looking at other top dating dealbreakers for OKCupid users, the data scientists found that 76 percent of 650,000 worldwide daters said that their partners must support gender equality over the past year. Meanwhile, 66 percent of 2 million U.S.-based daters said that they were in favor of stricter gun control laws over the past three years. 

The data scientists at OKCupid also found that of 2.2 million users surveyed over the past five years, there has been a 400 percent increase in the likelihood that climate-conscious individuals identify as feminists and a 37 percent rise in profile “likes” for people concerned about climate change. In addition, they observed that only 7 percent of daters reported that they “rarely” or “never” recycle.

“We really do listen to our users and want to know what they care about and what they’re seeking out in other people and then just make that ever more apparent,” Reynolds said.

Sometimes, she explained, surfacing these global issues as questions can convince daters to give a profile a second look when they otherwise would not have done so.

“We kind of joke that caring about climate change is the new tall, dark and handsome,” Reynolds added.

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