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The speed-dating data

Somebody writes,

I am looking for interesting, unusual datasets for a data analysis class I am teaching, and I heard by email from Ray Fisman that you have a sanitized version of the data from his speed dating experiment.

Indeed, the data are here; we use them in a homework assignment in our book. The data were collected by Ray Fisman and Sheena Iyengar, an economist and a psychologist at the business school here, and they summarized their findings in this paper:

We study dating behavior using data from a Speed Dating experiment where we generate random matching of subjects and create random variation in the number of potential partners. Our design allows us to directly observe individual decisions rather than just final matches. Womenvput greater weight on the intelligence and the race of partner, while men respond more to physical attractiveness. Moreover, men do not value women’’s intelligence or ambition when it exceeds their own. Also, we find that women exhibit a preference for men who grew up in affl­uent neighborhoods. Finally, male selectivity is invariant to group size, while female selectivity is strongly increasing in group size.

What I really want to do with these data is what I suggested to Ray and Sheena several years ago when they first told me about the study: a multilevel model that allows preferences to vary by person, not just by sex. Multilevel modeling would definitely be useful here, since you have something like 10 binary observations and 6 parameters to estimate for each person.

I’m hoping that some pair of students analyzes these data as a project in my class this spring. I suspect that we could learn some interesting things. Also, once the model has been fitted successfully once, Ray, Sheena, and others would be able to fit it to other similar datasets easily enough.

Finally, let me thank Ray and Sheena again for making their data available to all.