The Secret to Finding a Match: A Field Experiment on Choice Capacity Design in an Online Dating Platform
Information Systems Research, Forthcoming
44 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2021
Date Written: January 10, 2020
Online matching platforms require new approaches to market design, because firms can now control many aspects of the search and interaction process through various IT-enabled features. Although choice capacity—the number of candidates a user can view and select—is a key design feature of online matching platforms, its effect on engagement and matching outcomes remains unclear. We examine the effect of different choice capacities on the number of choices and matches made on a platform by conducting a randomized field experiment in collaboration with an online dating platform. Specifically, we 1) select users who are of a similar age and live in the same geographical location, 2) design four treatment groups with different choice capacities in which users can only interact with other users in the same group, and 3) randomly assign the users to the treatment groups. We find that providing more choice capacity to male and female users has different effects on choice behaviors and matching outcomes. Although increasing the choice capacity of male users yields the highest engagement, increasing the choice capacity of female users is the most effective method to increase matching outcomes. We posit and empirically demonstrate four mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of different choice capacity designs. Furthermore, we generalize our findings to other online matching platforms and discuss how choice capacity can be designed to increase engagement and matching outcomes.
Keywords: online matching platform design, choice capacity, online dating, field experiment
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