Mutual interests: survey of dating app profiles underscores differences – and shocking similarities
When we first dove into dating app data, we were mostly interested in finding differences. What do men seeking women do differently to attract partners? What about women seeking women?
With Tinder, we explored many of those divides. We resisted the urge (for the most part) to comment on why those divides exist – to only supply the unscientific data and allow the reader to discern it. What struck us as we surveyed Mutual, a dating app geared toward Latter-day Saints, was not only the differences – but also the similarities.
As a whole, men and women on Mutual have shockingly similar features on their profiles. For instance, among the 100 male and 100 female profiles we surveyed, 31 percent of men seeking women (there is no same-gender option) mentioned TV or movies in their bio. Women mentioned those 32 percent of the time.
Men and women were equally likely to mention enjoying the outdoors (1 in 4). They also posted pictures taken while serving LDS missions in equal measure (3 percent) and were equally likely to have dogs in their pictures (just under 10 percent).
Comparing Mutual directly to Tinder is slightly problematic because they offer different features. For instance, Mutual users have the option to include tags in their profile – labels meant to ascribe their interests and attributes. A person can create their own tags or choose from popular submitted ones, such as “Film Fanatic,” “Podcast Junkie” or “Returned Missionary.” Profiles are allowed as many tags as they want – one profile had 41.
Those tags may account for certain features that were more common on Mutual than Tinder. For instance, while it wasn’t common occurrence on the latter, 1 in 4 Mutual profiles featured the word “adventure” in their bio, the majority of which came from the “adventurer” tag. (Again, the number was equitable between men and women.)
Mutual users are also required to list their height. Among the bonus features offered for those who upgrade to a premium account is the ability to filter for it.
What we didn’t account for
To keep the survey equitable to our previous one, we logged the same criteria. How many profiles include pictures by lakes and oceans (1 in 4 with a slight edge for the women) and how many photos on mountains (37 percent with a heavy edge to men)? But if we had known about certain features that would be so prominent in Mutual, we would have accounted for those in Tinder as well.
For instance – and we have no data to back this up, so take it how you will – Mutual users seemed far more likely to reference Harry Potter or anything Disney-related. They also included more pictures and mentions of nieces and nephews. We saw those elements on Tinder, but not as frequently.
Mutual and Tinder are similar in many ways – people taking pictures hiking and swimming and talking about their fondness for tacos. The differences, however, were compelling: Tinder users were far more likely to emphasize their appearance (provocative shots, gym pictures), while Mutual users were more likely to cite their interests. Only 14 percent of men left their bio blank – no women surveyed did (though many only listed their Instagram handle). On Tinder, that number was significantly higher on both sides.
But we hope you don’t get caught up in the data as you swipe. We went through hundreds of profiles for journalistic purposes and our data is unscientific. To find fulfillment, earnest users consume the apps more humanistically – one profile at a time.
Assist. Arts & Culture Editor Brandee Watters contributed to this article.