Business Intelligence

Propose With A Rose? Signaling In Internet Dating Markets

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Executive Summary

The large literature on costly signaling and the somewhat scant literature on preference signaling had varying success in showing the effectiveness of signals. The authors use a field experiment to show that even when everyone can send a signal, signals are free and the only costs are opportunity costs, sending a signal increases the chances of success. In an online dating experiment, participants can attach "Virtual roses" to a proposal to signal special interest in another participant. They find that attaching a rose to an offer substantially increases the chance of acceptance. This effect is driven by an increase in the acceptance rate when the offer is made to a participant who is less desirable than the proposer.

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