The options that we have regarding the individuals that we date are largely structured by the communities that we’re embedded in and the individuals with whom we regularly have contact. Put on something fuchsia.”I learn a lot about how men and women behave and what their preferences are. context is not necessarily applicable in a context across the world. That’s something that’s relevant and that we think about a lot at Tinder. Tinder Plus was tested in seven very diverse markets for about four months before we decided to start to roll it out to the rest of the world. Finding out how these features are used and how they resonate with the audience is super important to us. We’re really trying to gauge how they’re interacting with the app, as well as their experience on the app. That seems like it would be a goldmine of insights.“We get called a hookup app all the time.Tinder provides people with a way to have a larger degree of contact. My job is to understand user behavior and then use that understanding to create a better experience for users. A big project that was done about six months ago was one where I analyzed about 12,000 photos of users throughout the country—New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta—and I analyzed their photos to understand how the users presented themselves. One thing to remember is that Tinder is in approximately 196 countries. One thing that people don’t understand is that in Asian countries and in India, for example, people tend to use Tinder to make friends more than they do in the U. A lot of my research is related to understanding how Tinder affects different demographic groups. We considered that when developing Super Like, for example. Part of that testing was figuring out what was working, what people liked, evolving the feature into something that resonated for most people in the world. For example, what went into Tinder Plus were two of our most-requested features at the time. I could target people between the ages of 18 and 24. It’s pervasive: We get called a hookup app all the time. In one of our recent surveys, we found that 80% of Tinder users are seeking a relationship that is not a hookup. At the same time, I think that Tinder and online dating have emerged as the primary social institution that has replaced or supplemented a very fragmented market by which people meet.I employ several methodological approaches that I was trained in while doing my doctorate at UCLA to understand user behavior ranging from surveys, focus groups, content analysis. I’m analyzing data related to our users’ preferences. The common thread throughout my day-to-day is that I’m trying to understand how best to improve the Tinder user experience. There were 141 variables that were analyzed over the course of those photographs. The product that we have released now is relatively applicable across markets. With Super Like, our users wanted to know, how can I stand out? We tested it for about a month in Australia before releasing it globally. One of them was Rewind: the ability to undo a swipe. Those surveys can be global or targeted toward certain geographic areas or demographic groups. I’m able to track changes over time in people’s perception of the app: Which aspects of the app they like the most. In one of our recent surveys, we found that 80% of Tinder users are seeking a relationship that is not a hookup. There are all of these negative stories in the media about Tinder being a hookup app. I can’t tell you exact numbers, but we get several thousand respondents per survey. They’re looking for something more substantial.”Yes, you need to read about what other people are doing to know if your techniques are good. One thing that people don’t realize—and why there’s a hookup stigma—is that the vast majority of our users meet up within a week. Tinder has certainly revolutionized the dating market in a way that has been incredible. Historically, people have met through family and friends.All of these methods provide me with a different perspective of how the product should be oriented toward our users. Were they tilting their heads in a certain direction? And the passport feature, which is the ability to change your location and swipe anywhere in the world. It’s disconcerting to hear that when so many of our users are looking for something more substantial. So we obviously have substantial ability to understand variation within and between groups. We’re always reading about the latest studies that are coming out. But now given delays in marriage and childbearing generally…We find that women are more likely to wear formal clothing, as are men, when they’re presenting themselves. Men are more likely to wear button down shirts or jackets or suits.So it’s interesting to think about the type of image that people are trying to portray of themselves.
Are there any findings that you’ve come across that have been especially interesting or surprising?Individuals don’t operate in a bubble and they are quite affected by the institutions in which they’re operating. That’s counterintuitive, given that if you want to stand out, presumably you would wear a more bold color.Tinder and online dating generally are two of those institutions. So we were able to convey to our users, “Hey, if you want to stand out from the pack, don’t wear that little black dress.It’s interesting how we present ourselves in our profiles. We know that individuals often seek social context and help from friends to create their profiles.We think about how others perceive us when we’re presenting ourselves.
We talked to Carbino about her job, the research she conducts, and what Tinder users can learn from science to find better matches. A company like Tinder needs a sociologist because we’re trying to understand what individuals desire and how they behave. A lot of our users tell us that they don’t understand how to present themselves and that they want to improve their profiles.