Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday Fun: The three most important questions to ask on a first date

If you could ask only three questions to gauge your compatibility with a potential dating partner, what would they be? Would you ask about their religious beliefs? political orientation? career goals?

According to research conducted by OkCupid, a popular online dating service that collects data from its users and allows users to submit their own questions for others to answer, the three questions that best predict compatibility (measured as the likelihood of forming a committed relationship with another OkCupid user) are not exactly what you might expect. Users who agreed on their responses to the following three questions were more likely to form a relationship:

1. "Do you like horror movies?"

2. "Have you ever traveled around another country alone?"

3. "Wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?"

Why is it so important to agree on these particular questions? According to Robb Willer, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, these questions seem to reflect fundamental personality traits, specifically sensation-seeking and openness to experience, and research suggests that similarity in personality traits predicts both initial attraction and relationship satisfaction. On a practical level, matching on these questions may reflect a preference for similar types of activities, but they also seem to tap into deeper values.

For more first-date advice, such as what you can find out by asking "do you like the taste of beer?," see the OkTrends blog.

Further reading:

Byrne, D., Griffitt, W., & Stefaniak, D. (1967). Attraction and similarity of personality characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5 (1), 82-90 DOI: 10.1037/h0021198


  1. My kids told me about OKCupid and the fascinating wealth of statistics they have made available. I'd forgotten about it -- thanks for the reminder!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the post! The stats are indeed fascinating. Also disturbing at times, though I appreciate OkCupid's efforts to make the inner workings of online dating (and attraction in general) more transparent.