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These patterns also generally held for the second step, messaging, but with smaller effects. The results convince Ken-Hou Lin, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who also studies online dating."The science is absolutely solid." He suspects that deal breakers are more important at the early stage of mate selection when people are winnowing down a pool of candidates.Then comes the choice to send a person a message, or to reply to one.

If a profile did not include a photo, for example, both men and women were 20 times less likely to even look at the rest of the person's profile.

Smoking was another big deal breaker, associated with a 10-fold drop in interest.

But beyond someone's looks, how much do any of these factors matter for mate selection?

One complication is that online daters are not making just one decision, but several in a series: First, people are swiping their way through profiles and deciding which to dismiss immediately or browse more closely.

When you’re online dating, why do you swipe left on one person and swipe right on another?

Are you carefully weighing every factor that makes someone a good romantic match?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, men in their 40s tend to be more interested in younger women. "Women care quite a bit more about the height of their partners than vice-versa," Bruch says.

In pairings where men were about 17 centimeters (or about 6 inches) taller than the woman, the woman was about 10 times more likely to browse the guy’s profile, whereas the man was about three times more likely to browse hers.

"I expect positive selection to kick in at a later stage of the search," he says.

Lin hopes that other dating sites will release similar data, because website design could play a bit part in how people make decisions.

When it comes to the early stage of dating, it seems to be all about the deal breakers.

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