Weight Your Decision Using This Dating Site’s Formula

September 27, 2012
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Can a dating site help you make better decisions?

The site OKCupid has become known for its innovative approach to dating.

Can a dating site help you make better decisions?

The site OKCupid has become known for its innovative approach to dating.

To match daters to each other, OKCupid asks members to answer questions, then indicate how they’d like their ideal match to answer the same question.

But they take it one step further.

Daters are then asked how important the correct answer is to them. Daters rate the answer using the following scale:

Irrelevant
1A Little Important
10Somewhat Important
50Very Important
250Mandatory

Notice the amount of points assigned to each level aren’t equally spaced. That’s because the points assigned to each level indicate relative worth.

Having matching answers to a question marked as Very Important is equivalent to having 5 matching answers on a Somewhat Important question. Likewise, it takes 25 Somewhat Important matches to equal a single Mandatory match.

Unbalanced scales like these, where the interval between levels is not equal, can be used to improve decision techniques like the weighted pro-con list.

Consider a typical scale of 1-5:

1Irrelevant
2A Little Important
3Somewhat Important
4Very Important
5Mandatory

Using this scale, a factor rated Very Important is equal to only two factors rated A Little Important.

But you rarely want two pros rated A Little Important canceling out a con rated Very Important. You want 10 or 20 A Little Important pros before you’ll consider ignoring a Very Important con.

Unbalanced scales allow us to better map the value differences between different levels of importance when weighing factors.

But don’t just rely on OKCupid’s scale. Feel free to make your own based on your own differences in value. Maybe 10 Somewhat Important factors should be equal to 1 Very Important factor. In which case make your Somewhat Important level equal to 10 and your Very Important level equal to 100.

Adjust the labels and number of levels to your needs. For instance, you might use:

1Trivial
5Minor
50Major
250Critical
5,000Showstopper

Bottom line: when you need to weight factors that you later average or sum together, consider using an unbalanced scale to account for differing levels of importance rather than a balanced scale with equal intervals.

What alternative scales have you used besides the typical linear 1-5 or 1-10 scales?

Credits: The photo used in this article was taken by Courtney Carmody.