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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Using the Drake Equation to predict the odds of finding Ms./Mr. Right

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Author Topic: Using the Drake Equation to predict the odds of finding Ms./Mr. Right
LetterRip
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I found this interesting,

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/phd_students/backus/why_i_dont_have_a_girlfriend.pdf

The number he comes up with are about 1 in 1000 for his city for women who meet his criteria, but then taking into account whether they are single, and whether they will find him attractive, and whether he will get along with her that lowers it to about 1 in 300000.

I thought I'd try and estimate my own numbers - instead of university education I'll use IQ as a proxy instead (since most of the women who are intellectually gifted will be university educated, but many university educated women are not particularly bright).

F(IQ) = 1/50 - has to be able to hold up her end of the conversation on a variety of topics and not say cringe worthy things on a regular basis.

F(Personality) = 1/20 - funny, empathic, adequate personal ambition, comfortable in her own skin, and without major flaws/issues. My number here might be extremely optimistic.

F(Attractive) = 3/10 - while it is theoretically possible that even less attractive women would appeal to me I haven't met many women who were strong on my other criteria but were physically unattractive

F(Single) - 1/2 - this number is misleading since the parameter single negatively correlates with many of the other parameters - ie almost every women who meets my criteria will be married or in a relationship.

F(Attracted to Me) = 1/3 - I think I'm probably underestimating here as far as purely dating is concerned, but probably over estimating for 'long term' compatibility. This is a factor that might heavily autocorrelate - ie those women who meet my criteria are generally those most likely to find me attractive as well.

F(Age Appropriate) = 1/5 - just using his estimate here.

F(Local Population) = 2 million. I'll use the population of Mesa + phoenix.

F(Female Gender) = .51 I'll use standard gender ratio.

So we get

G = (1/50)*(1/20)*(3/10)*(1/2)*(1/3)*(1/5)*.51*2 million = 10.2

So 10.2 in 1020000 or 1 in 100000. That actually isn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. If I'm social and meet 20 women a day then it would take 14 years to meet her at most. With an average of 7 years. However, instead of random meetings, we can assume that I will primarily socialize with groups that are more likely to have women that meet my criteria and thus reduce the time of search. So we cut down the search space to 20%, so 1 in 20000. A fifth and then we get a mean time of 7/5 which is actually only 1.4 years. Of course the socialization number was pretty high - I rarely meet 20 new women a day. Also the 1.4 years doesn't take into account the time spent in relationships with women who ultimately don't meet the criteria.

Anywho was interesting to run the numbers and analyse the assumptions.

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LetterRip
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Probably the single biggest flaw is the F(Single) parameter - a womans quality strongly correlates to her being 'in a relationship' - ie probably 90% of the women who would meet the criteria are in a current relationship. So F(Single) would more likely be 1/10.

Which would be 1 in 500000, which is a bit more depressing number.

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Pete at Home
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Seems to me that the biggest error in your calculations is failure to consider factor correlation.

IQ and personality, for example. A single woman with an IQ that satisfies you would more likely have a personality that satisfies you. Likewise, reasonably attractive women are in my experience more likely to be comfortable in their own skin.

Also, due to male inadequacy issues, I suspect that intelligent adult women are more likely to be single than average ones.

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Jordan
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It's even worse if you're gay; the f_w term falls to something like 2% even if you're optimistic (from the perspective of a gay person looking for a partner, that is [Wink] ) about the frequency of homosexuality/bisexuality in the general population.

However, it's also instructive that you can easily improve your odds. For starters: stop being so picky. Does your partner really need to be university educated? There are plenty of smart, wonderful people who don't have degrees, people whom you will be perfectly happy with if you give them a chance. Why restrict yourself to just the city you live in? Long distance is hard, but I've done it, and it's feasible. Just seven years? Eight years isn't so bad; maybe you weren't in high school at the same time, but you're hardly a generation apart. And why is your maximum age just three years older than you? Come on, man! And, of course, just because someone already has a partner doesn't mean it's serious, or that they will stay with them, though I hardly recommend breaking up a happy couple for your own benefit.

He also considers his chance of meeting someone on a night out, but that's a very poor way of finding a mate meeting your criteria. Why not target your search by using e.g. an online dating site, or getting friends to set you up with people they know? If a university education and appropriate age are so important, how about attending postgraduate events? Make your own opportunities, don't just wait for them to fall into your lap.

What he's calculating here isn't the probability of finding Mrs Right, it's the probability of Mrs Unchallenged Preconceptions just falling into his lap.

(Incidentally, to any mathematically-inclined people who are currently in a heterosexual relationship, this might be of use: A game theoretic approach to the toilet seat problem and The social norm of leaving the toilet seat down: a game theoretic analysis.)

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Greg Davidson
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What do OKCupid and other related social media sites do to the efficiency of the search algorithm?
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LetterRip
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Jordan,

as I said I substituted IQ for university educated - personally I've never found someone who wasn't extremely intelligent as attractive for more than a brief time. IQ is mostly a proxy for thoughtful conversationalist and fun to play games with. Looks like about 84th percentile might be 'smart enough' when going by IQ of occupations, so 4/25.

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2011/01/average-iq-by-occupation-estimated-from.html

However, I suspect that that is too low, since for those I've found attractive in the various occupations represented tend to be the top of the curve for their respective occupations/degree, which generally will be a standard deviation of IQ higher.

Note that the chart above is estimating IQ based on income, which isn't completely accurate, but works well enough for our purposes.

Jordan - I did do an estimate that improved the time by using your social circle, etc. Ie targeted search. I didn't take into account online dating.

Greg,

that is an excellent question, potentially can drastically reduce the search cost and thus search time, however, F(Attracted to me) will take a serious hit due to reduced ability to convey personal qualities via the net that are readily conveyed in person.

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LetterRip
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An interesting point that should be made is that you can't actually attract someone who is too much lower in 'social value' than yourself (at least if you are a guy; however every guy in the world appears to think that they have a chance with every woman) - any woman who feels that you are 'out of her league' will just assume you want her as a toy/distraction and aren't serious or even worse will assume you are teasing/insulting them. Of course there are exceptions - some women suffer under the delusion of 'if only I weren't so shy, I could have any guy I want' that Hollywood has built up.

[ June 15, 2012, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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DonaldD
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Jordan - regarding your links on game theoretic approach, it illustrates common mistakes in defining mathematical problems - two that I noticed immediately were unfounded assumptions (John always stands to perform action #1) and oversimplifying by leaving out variables - in this case, ignoring that toilets are also installed with toilet seat covers; these increase the number of possible states, for which the probability of each state varies somewhat unpredictably depending on useage parameters.
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Jordan
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LR: using IQs is probably better, yes. (I was using the second person pronoun mainly to address the author of that article, not everyone who had responded. [Wink] )

Donald, you just outlined the first two thoughts I had. I usually sit if I'm not in a hurry and prefer to cover the toilet when I flush. Even if it's just boys living in the house, I like them to put the toilet seat and cover down.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:
However, it's also instructive that you can easily improve your odds. For starters: stop being so picky. Does your partner really need to be university educated? There are plenty of smart, wonderful people who don't have degrees, people whom you will be perfectly happy with if you give them a chance. Why restrict yourself to just the city you live in? Long distance is hard, but I've done it, and it's feasible. Just seven years? Eight years isn't so bad; maybe you weren't in high school at the same time, but you're hardly a generation apart. And why is your maximum age just three years older than you? )

Sure. Nobody's perfect. (sorry; could not resist).
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jasonr
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One of the flaws in this kind of analysis is the assumption that what people think they want is necessarily the same as what they want.

I find people tend to be ideological in how they rationalize their criteria for finding a mate. It's as much about image as substance, as if to say: this is how I wish to see myself, and this is the kind of person I wish to be attracted to.

Statements like: "funny, empathic, adequate personal ambition, comfortable in her own skin, and without major flaws/issues" may be true in the abstract sense, but in reality, reflect value judgments that do not necessarily translate well into that "spark" that spells the difference between a regular first (and last) date versus that WOW that you get maybe 1/20 times that leaves you electrified at the end and wanting more.

That's why I find websites like E-Harmony mostly miss the mark. You can fill in all the forms and personality profiles you want, but such an intellectual exercise has little, if anything, to do with finding a truly compatible mate. Five minutes alone with a person will communicate more relevant information than one hundred detailed profiles.

One need not lower one's standards necessarily to find a mate in most cases, but one does need to keep an open-mind and not needlessly rule out possibilities based on flimsy intellectual rationalizations.

I'll give you a personal example. On my third date with my wife, I mentioned to her in passing that I was looking into the purchase of a condo. This was just casual conversation, but within a week she wasn't returning my calls and I got the dreaded "this insn't going to work out" voice message or such.

I was quite stunned, since everything had been going so well. We definitely had that spark and I could tell that we were really right for one another.

By lucky chance I was able to catch her on IM the next day just before work and asked her why she did not want to see me again.

It turns out she assumed that if I was purchasing a condo, this meant I was still in "bachelor" mode and was not looking for a committed relationship.

Anyone who knew me at that time would have laughed out loud at that prospect. Her assumption was laughably, tragically, horribly wrong. If I hadn't caught her on that IM and convinced her to give me a chance, our marriage would never have happened and my wife would still have been likely single today, wondering where all the marriage-eligible guys were.

[ June 16, 2012, 01:06 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Pete at Home
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Back when I used to be a technical writer, I noticed a three-step process to most of my directed projects.

First I'd give the boss what he'd asked for.

Second, I'd give the boss what he'd meant to ask for.

Third, I'd give the boss what he actually needed.

Suffice to say, I like being my own boss now.

[ June 16, 2012, 01:57 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Jordan
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quote:
Jason:
That's why I find websites like E-Harmony mostly miss the mark. You can fill in all the forms and personality profiles you want, but such an intellectual exercise has little, if anything, to do with finding a truly compatible mate. Five minutes alone with a person will communicate more relevant information than one hundred detailed profiles.

Incidentally, that's part of the idea behind Facing.me, which is a fairly novel approach to Internet dating.
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Pete at Home
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If I were going to e-date, I'd prefer an open-conversation community, a forum with sub-fora for interests, like dancing, cooking, movies (with sub-genres), etc. Make it an activity center and a community.
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