Star-Cursed Lovers: Role of Popularity Information in Online Dating

55 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2019 Last revised: 12 Dec 2020

See all articles by Behnaz Bojd

Behnaz Bojd

University of California Irvine

Hema Yoganarasimhan

University of Washington

Date Written: December 11, 2020


We examine the effect of user's popularity information on their demand in a mobile dating platform. Knowing that a potential partner is popular can increase their appeal. However, popular people may be less likely to reciprocate. Hence, users may strategically shade down or lower their revealed preferences for popular people to avoid rejection. In our setting, users play a game where they rank-order members of the opposite sex and are then matched based on a Stable Matching Algorithm. Users can message and chat with their match after the game. We quantify the causal effect of a user's popularity (star-rating) on the rankings received during the game and the likelihood of receiving messages after the game. To overcome the endogeneity between a user's star-rating and her unobserved attractiveness, we employ non-linear fixed-effects models. We find that popular users receive worse rankings during the game, but receive more messages after the game. We link the heterogeneity across outcomes to the perceived severity of rejection concerns and provide support for the strategic shading hypothesis. We find that popularity information can lead to strategic behavior even in centralized matching markets if users have post-match rejection concerns.

Keywords: online dating, popularity information, strategic shading, two-sided platforms, mobile marketing, matching markets

JEL Classification: D83, D84, L14, L86, M31, J12, C23

Suggested Citation

Bojd, Behnaz and Yoganarasimhan, Hema, Star-Cursed Lovers: Role of Popularity Information in Online Dating (December 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Behnaz Bojd

University of California Irvine ( email )

Irvine, CA
United States

Hema Yoganarasimhan (Contact Author)

University of Washington ( email )

481 Paccar Hall
Seattle, WA 98195
United States


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