A popular dating website has admitted that it has been secretly pairing incompatible singletons with each other as part of a "human experiment".
OkCupid said that it has misled users into thinking they were being matched with a potential love interest whose criteria complemented their own, when they were purposefully being paired with an incompatible profile.
Weeks after Facebook admitted that it had secretly involved users in a psychological study by manipulating what type of posts appeared in their newsfeeds, OkCupid's CEO posted a blog post entitled 'We Experiment on Human Beings!'
Christian Rudder wrote: "Guess what, everybody: if you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work."
People on the website whose profiles scored just a 30% match were told by by OkCupid that their scores were actually 90% compatible.
Nearly one in five 'mismatched' couples went on to exchange four or more messages - with the 'four-message threshold' OkCupid's measure for a 'real conversation'.
Rudder claimed that the experiment found, "When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other."
Couples whose profiles matched 90% - 90% but were told that they were just 30% compatible were 4% less likely to go on exchanging messages than well-matched users who were told of their true compatibility.
Some users were critical of the website, which claims "We use math to get you dates," with one commenting: "So your defence is, “Everybody does it, so it’s perfectly okay”? Nice."
However, others welcomed Rudder's admission and the online experiment, describing it as "interesting and entertaining."
Rudder also detailed other online dating experiments undertaken by the company, revealing that a 2013 study that removed profile pictures saw users quicker to respond to messages and exchange contact information with potential love interests.
In a separate study that hid 'about me' profile descriptions, OkCupid found that people with attractive pictures were likely to be rated highly on personality, even when there was barely any information provided.
"So, your picture is worth that fabled thousand words, but your actual words are worth … almost nothing," Rudder said.
That's a sentiment that one particular OkCupid user probably wouldn't agree with. A brilliant tumblr post by a woman called Emily reveals an incredibly detailed and specific list of "deal-breakers" listed on one man's profile she came across on the website, which is just too good not to share: