Psychology in online dating and dashboard I: halo effects

blog31julyOkCupid made headlines this week by boosting about running many experiments on its users and having fun doing it (

My current blog does not discuss the ethical implications of such research; for that see instead my previous blog on such experiments at Facebook

Today I want to talk about the results of research, indicating the importance of psychology in big data and analytics. Let’s do so with the OkCupid experiment that demonstrate halo effects in online dating.

The Halo effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person influences the observer’s specific feelings and thoughts about that person (Thorndike 1920). At OkCupid, daters used to rate each other on 2 separate dimensions: looks and personality. However, the actual ratings were almost perfectly correlated. This could mean that our external beauty is simply a reflection of our inner beauty (and vice versa), or, more likely, that you form an overall positive or negative impression of a person, and rate any dimension accordingly.

Likewise in marketing analytics and dashboards, how you appear as an analyst will guide dashboard users’ perception of you and your products and services. My book discusses in chapters 12-14 how their perception of your competence and understanding of their needs affects dashboard use.

Have you experienced the halo effect in your career? Let us know!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on placebo effects in dating and marketing analytics

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