LOGAN URY: So thank
you all for coming. My name is Logan Ury. I help lead a team at Google
called the Irrational Lab. We’re a behavioral
economics unit, and we work closely
with Professor Dan Ariely, who we’re very
lucky to have with us today. And Dan Ariely is the James B.
Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral
Economics at Duke. He founded the Center for
Advanced Hindsight there. And he’s the author of three
“New York Times” best sellers, including “Predictably
Irrational,” “The Upside of Irrationality,”
and “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.” So we’re going to do about
35 minutes of questions between us, and then we’ll
open it up to the audience. So save your questions. And, Dan, I wanted to start off
with a really simple question that somebody in the
audience gave me beforehand, which is, what do women want? [LAUGHTER] DAN ARIELY: What do
they say they want or what they really want? Um. Any other questions? LOGAN URY: We can
come back to that. So based on your knowledge
of human decision-making– DAN ARIELY: By the way, I’ll
say one thing about this. It seems like a booby
trap to get into this, but I will say there’s some
really nice results showing that what women want in
terms of men actually changes through the
menstrual cycle. And there are times in
the month that women crave more men that
are metrosexual and a time of the
month when they crave men that look more manly. And you can guess
when is each of those. LOGAN URY: People
in the audience are taking notes on that. That’s great. So based on your knowledge
of human decision-making, how would you design the perfect
date, from the initial messages to the days after the date? DAN ARIELY: OK, lots of things
to say about an optimal date. So the first question
to ask is, what is the objective of the date? And is the date a starting
point for something else or is this the end of the experience? Let’s just assume
that we’re thinking about a long-term
relationship, and we’re just thinking about
the first date as something that could
have a potential long life. One of the things we
know is that the ending matters a great deal. So we’ve done lots of
experiments on this, but the nicest experiment is
an experiment on colonoscopy. So imagine you give
people a colonoscopy. And this is not something people
particularly enjoy, right? So that’s not the analogy there. But you have two
types of colonoscopy. Sorry to give you the details. But colonoscopy, the
unpleasant moment is where you go
around the curve. So imagine you
have a colonoscopy. It takes half an hour. And then for some
people, you just leave the probe in their anus
for just five more minutes, but you don’t make it painful. So for some people, you have
the experience, unpleasant. And for some people,
you have the experience, and the last five minutes
are just not as bad. Now it’s not a good experience. Nobody says, oh, give
me those five minutes. But it makes the average of
everything else go higher. Which one of those do
you think people prefer? They prefer 30 minutes of
an unpleasant experience or 30 minutes of unpleasant plus
5 minutes of less unpleasant? They prefer the second one. Now that’s an indication that
the end matters a great deal. And the end matters a great
deal in all kinds of things. Think about dinner. How do we end a dinner? We end it with a dessert. We end it with something extra. And how would you want
to end a vacation? You want to end it
with a high note, not getting home and
washing everything, and cleaning, or getting
stuck in an airport. So I think I would
start by thinking about the end of the
dating experience. So that would be one thing. The second thing is
that really, sadly, our imagination is often
better than reality. So think about something,
almost everything. What is better? The experience itself or how
you can imagine it would be? We have a tendency
to fill in the gaps. And we fill in gaps in
over-optimistic terms. Actually, we see this
a lot in online dating. People read profiles of
people in online dating, and they fill in the gaps. And they say, wow, this
person likes music, they must love the
kind of music I like. Fantastic. And then, of course,
they meet for coffee and get disappointed. So I would say the last moment
is incredibly important. And on top of that, leaving
something to the imagination would be extra, extra useful. So that’s one thing. The second thing is, how
do you get people to have– so we talked about the end. You want the end
to be meaningful, and you want to leave something
for the imagination for later. The other thing is
the question, how do you actually make the
discussions meaningful? So we did this in an
online dating setup, and we got people to– these
were MIT students, so it comes with all the qualifications. Anybody here went to MIT? Yeah, so you know. So you know the material. But anyway, so these
were MIT undergraduates who were dating
on this date site, and we just captured their
text messages to each other. And how wonderful do you
think their discussions were? How meaningful? They were terrible. They were terrible. They were asking things like,
what are you majoring in? And where do you go to school? And how many siblings? Now you could say that’s what
they really want to know. What really makes a
first date interesting is to go over each
other’s resume and exchange those details. The other possibility
is that we actually don’t feel comfortable sharing
intimate, useful details about ourselves. And what we gravitate toward is
the lower common denominator. So we did another version of
this in which we gave people 20 questions. And we told people, look, you
can’t ask anything you want. You have to pick from
those 20 questions. And the other person
knew that they could only pick from those 20 questions. So if we have a first date,
and I start by saying, Logan, what’s your most
interesting sexual fantasy? A little hard to
start a discussion like that because it violates
some rules about conversation, where you expect people
to start by saying, where do you go to school? But it’s really
boring, useless stuff that doesn’t promote the
relationship in any way. So we gave people a
list of questions, and we said, these are the
only questions you can ask. And what happened? Everybody benefited more
from those questions. The people who asked got
answers that they cared about. And the people who
answered the question, it’s really much more
interesting than saying, read my resume. So I think there’s
another question of, how do we create a room for
a date, that during the date, we agree in advance
not to exchange meaningless information? How do you set the tone? How do you set the
rules for that approach? There’s a very nice set
of questions in psychology where they basically came up
with a list of 36 questions, I think, where they
said, these 36 questions help people get to
know each other. The questions themselves
are not that crucial. What is crucial is
what they leave out. So thinking about the
date in terms of saying, how do we make it meaningful? And then the final
thing, I would say, is that, what are you really
trying to get out of a date? You’re trying to get a
glimpse of that person. And some of it comes from direct
questioning and answering, the interview process. But some of it comes
from getting people to interact in the world. Imagine you could go
on a date with somebody in an empty room
with nothing around. How much would you learn about
that person versus if you went together to a concert? And there’s lots of
other people around, and vendors, and
noise, and things happen that are unexpected. How much would you be able
to learn in a slightly non-mediated, non-clear way? You would actually
understand that person in a much better way. So thinking also about
what’s the environment that could maximize how much
you’re going to learn about that person is important. LOGAN URY: Thank you. So what about before
and after the date? Is there any research that says
people should play hard to get? That’s a question that my
friends ask me all the time. DAN ARIELY: Yes, absolutely. Playing hard to get
is a good recipe. So you know the term
cognitive dissonance, right? So the original research
in cognitive dissonance looked at the following. Festinger got people to a
room, and he said, please screw this bolt for an hour. And people screwed
this bolt for an hour. And then he paid some people
$1 for this, very low. Some people, $20, very high. And then he basically tried
to get them to recommend this task for other people. Now if you got $20 for this,
what do you say to yourself? This was an unbelievably
boring task. I got paid a lot. Perfectly fine. What do you say if
you got paid $1? You say, I got paid $1. This was unbelievably boring. Those things don’t fit. Now can you change the
fact that you got paid $1? No, that’s a fact. So what do you do? You change your perception
of the boringness. This idea of
cognitive dissonance is it’s uncomfortable
for us to live with two ideas that don’t fit. So you say, I got paid $1. This was boring. I don’t like living
with this dissonance. So let me think about this
task as being more interesting. And now I feel more likely to
recommend it to other people. So think about it
in the same way. You’re going on a date,
and you work hard for it. What do you say to yourself? You say, I’m working
very hard for it, and this person is not worth it. It doesn’t work as well. So the moment you work harder
for somebody, for something, you can’t change that fact. You change your opinion
that this person is actually worth more. You have to explain to
yourself, why did I try so hard? Why did I try so hard
for such a long time? And the only solution you
have is to say this person must be amazing. So you convince yourself
that this person is amazing. So this is kind
of a justification for playing hard to get. Now there’s probably a limit. But I think that making things
too easy are not worthwhile. There’s another more recent
research on showing effort. Do you want to say
something about this? LOGAN URY: Sure. So Michael Norton, who’s a
professor at Harvard Business School, did some
research showing how do people like to see the
search results for a travel website. So you would think I like to
see them as quickly as possible. But he actually had a
condition in which you saw it instantaneously, you saw
it with a progress bar, or you saw it with a
progress bar that said, we’re now searching
thousands of websites, including Orbitz, and United,
and American Airlines. And people actually
preferred that third one because they thought that
the, quote, “algorithm” was working harder for them. So we like when things are
harder but show effort. DAN ARIELY: So it’s
not just the hard, but that we understand the
effort that goes into it. So when you think
about relationships, and you take two people in a
relationship, and you ask them, from the total 100%
of the relationship, how much work do you do,
and how much work do you do? These numbers never sum
up to less than 100. It’s always more than 100%. And why is it? It’s because we see all
the details of what we do. I take the trash. My goodness, this is
a 17-step process, takes a really long
time, really involved. My wife, she pays the bills. That has to be very simple. And the lesson from
this is you really want to be more like Kayak
in every aspect of your life. You want to come home to
your significant other, and you want to say,
I’m searching United, I’m searching. Here’s all the things I’ve done
for our relationship today. And it’s not about
lying or exaggerating, but it’s really about
making the effort that you put in clear to
the other person as well. LOGAN URY: It also
works for roommates, I’ve recently discovered. Yeah. So something that I’ve
thought about for a long time is we’re now in
this age of Tinder. And you go on your
phone, and there’s– DAN ARIELY: I’m not. LOGAN URY: –seemingly
limitless amount of people. And you think your soulmate
is just one swipe away. So with what you know about
the paradox of choice, how should we
optimize for happiness in this age of Tinder? DAN ARIELY: And it’s not
just the paradox of choice. So imagine two principles. The first one is the grass
always looks greener. OK, let’s take a step back. When you get to know
somebody better, what are some of the first
things you learn about them? That they disappoint you
in all kinds of ways. So this is true in
visual illusion. If you take pictures of
people, and you blur them out, and you make them
fuzzy, everybody looks more attractive. As you get into the
little details of life, you start seeing wrinkles. And it’s true in
visual perception, and it’s also true in life. When you look at people
in general terms, you only see the
good things in them. This, by the way, is not just
about romantic attraction. When companies hire
CEOs, and they hire CEOs from outside the company, they
often have high expectations from them. But when you look
at the results, the results show that they
pay way more to external CEOs than internal ones,
and they perform worse. But when you look
at an external one, it’s very easy to
say, oh my goodness, this person is just great. Because you don’t know
the little details. So if you look at somebody
you don’t know very well, all the little annoying
habits that they have are just going to be
outside of scope for you, and you will just imagine
that they all work well. Only when they move in, you
get to see those details. So imagine a world in which,
when you look at other people, they look more
green, or they look more glorious than when
you get to know them in all the details. And now you’re in
bed next to somebody, and you wake up in the
morning, and you say, is this what I want
for the rest of my life when I have other options here? And this is the Tinder,
your phone is here. And basically, all of those
things, all of those options look so wonderful. By the way, also, in
online dating, or Facebook, whatever it is, people only
present their positive sides. So you have this biased idea
that the outside option, the set of the outside
options, looks so promising. And now, you wake
up next to somebody or you have a little
fight with somebody, and you think to
yourself, in one click, I could have a date
with somebody else. Now imagine that you
have an apartment. And you have a deal
with the landlord that the lease is day-to-day. And every morning, you
wake up and you say, do I want to extend
this lease or not? And every day,
your landlord will decide if they want to
extend that lease or not. How much would you
invest in the apartment? Would you paint the walls? Would you get flowers? Would you fix the walls? Would you do all
kinds of things? Of course not. Because you’re always
with one foot outside. And I think that that’s
really the issue. It’s not just the existence
of Tinder, but this idea. So the analogy is
that you wake up next to your romantic partner
every morning, and you say, should we do it for another
day or should we stop now? The moment you think in the
short-term horizon, the odds that you will invest
in a relationship is much, much lower. And there’s actually
a beautiful research by Dan Gilbert and Ebert. They got undergrads to
take a photography class. And at the end of the
two-week photography class, they say, hey, you took
lots of pictures, pick one, and we’ll send this one picture
to England to be developed. It’ll be back here in two weeks. That’s it. The other group, they said
the same thing, but they said, look, we’re going to send
it to England for two weeks. It’ll come back. But during those two weeks,
you can change your mind. In fact, even when the
picture comes back, you can change your mind. So the picture came
back after two weeks. Of course, they didn’t
really send it to England, but they came back. And then they say, do
you change your mind? Nobody changed their mind. But how much did people
like their pictures? The people who committed
to the pictures loved them. The people who were still,
all the time, saying, yes, I know I committed
to the picture, but there’s all kinds
of other pictures, should I change my mind, and so
on, actually liked them less. So the thing that
worries me is that when we’re in a relationship but
continuously with one foot out, and continuously thinking
about how the outside world is more tempting, and more
interesting, and so on, it’s actually not a good
recipe for investing in a relationship. And the relationship
gets better when you– it’s not a zero-sum game. It gets better when
you invest in it. And if you don’t think
you’re there for a long time, the likelihood of investment
is just not that high. LOGAN URY: So
that’s a great segue into something I
wanted to talk about, which is how do you choose who
you should settle down with? And maybe you could apply
this to the secretary problem. DAN ARIELY: So my
preference for all of you is to choose randomly. It’s the best for
experimental research. We haven’t been able
to do this experiment. So you know the
secretary problem, right? The secretary problem
is a classic problem in operation research. And the idea is that living
without the secretary is tough. These were the days when
people had secretaries. But let’s say living without
an assistant is tough. Every day, you have
lower utility for the day because you have to
do more yourself. And you interview people. And you interview people
one a day, they just arrive. You can’t interview
them all at once. And if you delay the
hiring, you suffer because you spend
time on hiring, and you don’t have a
secretary in the middle. But if you choose very early,
somebody who’s not great, you might be missing on
somebody great down the line. And actually, there’s an
optimal solution for that. Because what you really
want to do is you want to sample
secretaries for a while until you figure
out the distribution of quality of people
out there in the world. And then the moment
you hit somebody who passed that threshold,
you should adopt them because there’s
opportunity cost. And the big insight from that
problem is opportunity cost. So what would you rather do? Let’s say you’re a woman, and
you’re trying to date a man. And let’s say that men are on
one scale between 0 and 10. And one day, you meet
somebody who’s 8 and 1/2. Do you say yes? Or do you say let me
search for somebody else? In the secretary
problem, the assumption is if you throw somebody out,
you can never get them back. And you keep on sampling. And what we see happening
is that people don’t take opportunity cost into account. So what you need
to think about is, how much do you enjoy
life in the search process versus how much do you
enjoy life when you’re dating? Hopefully, the dating one
is better than without it. But assuming this
is the case, there’s also a cost for
opportunity cost. Delaying this process by
three years also has a cost. People don’t take the
cost into account. So there is an equation
of how to figure it out. I’m not sure people should go
exactly with this equation. But I do think that we
need to be a bit more aware of the opportunity
cost and about the almost on-going misery– for some
people– of being alone, and how we take that
into account as well. Plus, I’m speaking
for all men, I think women should just lower
their standards a little bit. LOGAN URY: So speaking
of lowering standards, what’s some of the best
and worst dating advice that you’ve ever heard? DAN ARIELY: The best
and worst dating advice. LOGAN URY: It could also be
for relationships or marriage. DAN ARIELY: I’m not sure
if it’s a bit of advice. OK, here’s an advice–
ask your mother about the person you’re
dating and your best friends. You see, when we fall
in love with somebody, we’re infatuated. It’s an amazing feeling. And when we have
this amazing feeling, we feel this euphoria
and attraction. And we think this person is
everything about our lives, and we can’t imagine
that anything will ever be different. The sad reality is that
it’s a wonderful feeling, it just doesn’t last that long. And the question is,
when it goes away, what comes in its place? And the problem is
that when you’re infatuated with somebody,
you’re really not a good judge of the fact that
this feeling will go away. You’re sure that you will
stay with that feeling. And you’re not sure
that this person has what it takes to have
the long-term aspect. Your mother is probably a
better candidate for that because your mother
actually sees the person without being infatuated. If you think about what makes
long-term compatibility, it’s not necessarily
something that you can grasp when you’re infatuated. There’s a very sad result
that people actually don’t tell their friends what
they think about the people that they’re dating. So I’ll tell you
a personal story. I have a friend, and
he was dating somebody. And I heard that they broke up. And I met him, and
I said, oh, I’m so happy you broke up
with this awful woman. She’s just terrible. Thank god it’s over. And he says, we
just got engaged. And there are multiple
options, multiple things you can say at a
junction like this. My choice was to say, you idiot! And I said, haven’t
you talked to anybody? Haven’t you talked to
any of your friends? Everybody hates her. Haven’t you talked to anybody? Well, we didn’t talk
for a long time. But nobody told him. It is actually a very hard thing
to tell your friends that you hate the person
that they’re dating or that you think they’re
really a bad compatibility. But it’s your
obligation as a friend. If you really value your
friendship, you have to do it. So I think, A, give more
advice to your friends. It would be nice to measure
how many couples break after– LOGAN URY: There will be
a survey for everyone. DAN ARIELY: And then thinking
about long-term compatibility, what does that actually mean? Have any of you
ever gone canoeing? So I’m a big proponent
of the canoeing test as a test for relationship. LOGAN URY: Oh, no. DAN ARIELY: Did you go
canoeing with someone? So here’s what
happens in a canoe, and I’m not talking
about canoeing on a lake, we’re talking about whitewater. It doesn’t have
to be very rough, but some kind of
streaming water. Now when you’re in a
canoe, things happen. You hit a rock, you flip over,
there’s a wave, you get wet, things happen. And the question is, how much
do you blame the other person? There’s something called the
fundamental attribution error in psychology. The fundamental
attribution error is the idea that when
bad things happen to us, we think it’s because
of external events. When bad things happen
to other people, we say, they’re just clumsy. So if I slip on a banana,
it’s because somebody forgot, somebody was negligent. If somebody else slips,
they’re just careless. Now when things happen to
us outside of our control, when it’s for us, we
tend to blame the world. When it’s for other people,
we tend to blame them. So it’s a wonderful opportunity
to basically simulate arguments. You go down canoeing,
bad things will happen. It doesn’t look like
it’s your fault. And now the question is how
you’re going to negotiate that. Are you going to
blame each other? Are you going to be
collaborative about it? Are you going to take
it in a friendly way? When you usually
date, you don’t have that many things
to argue about, not many bad things happen to you. If you live in San Francisco,
the most you can argue is the Uber is a little late
or something tragic like that. [LAUGHTER] But realize, lots of things
happen outside of your control. And the real question is how
you’re going to manage them. And something like
a canoeing test is going to be an
acceleration for this process. So is there a good river
around here to try? LOGAN URY: Yeah, some Groupon
sales for canoes will go up. So I wanted to go back to what
you said about infatuation. How does that relate
to arranged marriage? How does that compare– love
versus arranged marriage? DAN ARIELY: So there’s
this very kind of sad, kind of interesting
result. This is a research in India
comparing love marriages and arranged marriages. And of course, it’s not
a random assignment. It’s not as if you take
two people, say, hey, you’re an arranged marriage,
you’re a love marriage. But they look, in general, at
duration of the relationship and at happiness. And what they find,
unsurprisingly, is, which one starts better? The love marriages. Love marriages start happy. Arranged marriages start worse. But what happens over time? Love marriages go down,
arranged marriages go up. And they cross in year three. So in year three, they switch. Now there are many
reasons for that. So one thing in India, if you
live in an arranged marriage, you’re not just marrying
the particular person. You’re marrying into a family. But also, you have an idea of
what your individual roles are. So you marry into a family. You have an idea
what your roles are. There’s a responsibility
and so on. And therefore, things
improve over time. Where love marriages are
actually very tricky. Do you know, there’s
a term, lesbian death? LOGAN URY: Bed death. DAN ARIELY: Bed death? LOGAN URY: Yeah. You go ahead. DAN ARIELY: No, you go, you go. LOGAN URY: I think
there’s a concept that has been put out there. DAN ARIELY: No, no,
there’s a lot of research. Yeah. LOGAN URY: –that
around year seven of a relationship
in a lesbian couple, there isn’t a lot
of sexual activity. And they call it
lesbian bed death. DAN ARIELY: Yeah. And it’s not so much at year
seven, but it happens early. And there was a
paper in, I think, the “American Sociology Review”
a couple of years ago on this. And the notion is that
because the relationships are not as defined, and
because it’s largely about equal relationship
or about friendship, the romantic aspects
of the relationship don’t flourish as much. The friendship does, but
the other ones don’t. And that’s actually a
big mystery, I think. We’re moving to a
different realm, different types of relationships
than we had historically. And hopefully, we’ll get
to be as equal as possible. There’s more equality,
more camaraderie, all kinds of things. How do we get that
on one hand and don’t get the cost of that in
terms of passion, romance, or the others? I don’t think we have
a good answer for that. But it’s certainly an
issue to figure out. LOGAN URY: So I know
you’ve done some work with Ashley Madison, the
infamous site for having an affair. Do you think that’s a solution? What do you think
about Ashley Madison? DAN ARIELY: So I’ll tell you
what the CEO of Ashley Madison told me when I met him. So the last couple
of years, we’ve been doing some
research on dishonesty. Actually, for many years,
we’ve been doing research on dishonesty. But we did a documentary
on dishonesty. And Noel Biderman that was
the CEO of Ashley Madison before this happened, was one
of the people we interviewed. And he actually had some
interesting observations about relationships. And one of the things
he said was that, if women have problems
in the relationship and they want to discuss it with
somebody, who do they go to? Their women friends. What about men? So how many men here have talked
about relationship problems with your male best friends? So how many of you
do it regularly? It’s not fair because
very few people would raise their
hands when you ask a question like this on camera. But in general, it’s
much less likely. Women have a tight
social network where talking about
relationships is common. Men, stereotypically,
don’t do it. We talk about sports. But talking about
relationships actually helps you change your
relationship or improve things. Talking about sports doesn’t
really help in that regard. And what Noel said
was that, when people have an external
partner, that’s actually an opportunity for men to have
discussions about relationships and so on. Now his hypothesis was that
it actually, in some cases, helped their relationship. We never got to test
that hypothesis. But it’s an interesting
thing to think about. And of course, the solution
doesn’t have to be affairs. The solution could be, how
do we create support networks for men? Given that relationships
are more complex, not just for women,
but for men as well, how do we create social
networks for men? That we can discuss those
things and have better aspect. The other thing we learned–
so Ashley Madison, men joined. You know the site, right? The tagline used to be,
at least, “Life is short, have an affair.” And in every zip code,
and in every country that they were in, men
joined and women joined. And the question is, what is
the ratio between men and women? So let’s just talk
across countries. What do you think,
across countries, best predict the
ratio of men to women? In which type of
countries is the number more equal, and in
which countries there are more men and fewer women? What does it correlate with? What would you expect? It’s a data question. AUDIENCE: Religion. DAN ARIELY: Religion? No. AUDIENCE: Well, the practices
of getting [INAUDIBLE]. DAN ARIELY: The
practices– oh, so you think it’s about the ratio
of men to women in society. So where more men–
no, but interesting. What else? AUDIENCE: Income. DAN ARIELY: Say more, what
do you mean by income? AUDIENCE: So if equivalent
levels make roughly the same, more likely to have equal– DAN ARIELY: That’s
exactly right. So the income gap. So women, almost everywhere
around the world, get paid less than
men for the same job. As this income gap
is higher, there are more men and fewer women. And as the income gap is lower,
the percentage gets closer. Which suggests that
the demand of women for extramarital affairs
is being held back. You don’t think that when
there’s a big income gap, all of a sudden, the men are
just more wonderful so women want to stay with them longer. It’s probably the opposite. But it just means that
something is holding women back in that regard. It’s because of
financial insecurity. LOGAN URY: So are
there any regions of the country where
you’ve seen a lot of use by, particularly, men or women? DAN ARIELY: So that
was across the world. If we just look at the
US, the worst place, in terms of the ratio of
high men and very few women, is a suburb of Silicon Valley. And this is across the US. And the reason for
that is I think it represents probably
one of those cases where it’s a suburb. Women don’t have a job. They are homemakers, low income. Men work in Silicon Valley. They get paid very well. The income gap is very high. And that’s the recipe. So we had this discussion
about dating in San Francisco. How many of you live
in San Francisco? So imagine a world in
which you have 101 women. It’s a math problem. There’s 101 women and 100 men. And we do this experiment. And we gave everybody $10. And we say, if at the end
of the game, you have money, you get to keep it as long as
you’re paired with somebody of the opposition gender. So if you’re a man and
woman, and you’re paired up, you each get to keep your money. If you’re not paired, the
money goes back to me. That’s rule number one. And the second rule is
you could buy people. What does that mean? So let’s say that Scott
and Logan are together, and I am alone. I can say, Logan, I have $10. If I give you $1, would
you drop Scott and join me? And the goal of the game is
not to be nice to your partner, the goal is to make money. So that’s the goal. So let’s say you switch to me. And then let’s say Scott comes
and says he’ll offer you $2. Now if you move to Scott, it’s
not like an engagement ring. You don’t get to keep my $1. You give it back to me. So at each point, if
you switch to somebody, you take what they gave you,
but the money you got before, you have to return. So now imagine the game. 101 women, in total,
the women have $1,010. 100 men, in total,
the men have $1,000. As the game continues,
at the end of the game, when nobody’s switching anymore,
how much money do the men have? And how much money
do the women have? What do you think? So first of all,
who has more money? The men or the women? AUDIENCE: Women. DAN ARIELY: No AUDIENCE: Well, I’m
not from San Francisco, but it seems to me that if
you give them enough time to go back and
forth, the men will be left with next to nothing. DAN ARIELY: The men? No. So the result is
that the men end up with almost all the money. The women end up with $101. And the men end up
with everything. Why? So you have 100 men, 101 women. There’s one woman alone. What does she do? She goes to a man
and says, hey, I’ll give you $1 if you switch to me. The man switches. Now there’s another
woman who’s alone. She goes to another
man, another man. Eventually, all the men have
$11 and the women have $9. But there’s still a
woman with no partner. So she continues. And the game continues,
and continues, and continues until
all the women have $1. Because if there’s a woman
with $2 who is alone, she will give that
$1 to somebody else to switch with her. So eventually, and what’s so
nice about this– so nice. So interesting but depressing
thing about this game is that you need a very
small asymmetry in the market to create a tremendous
asymmetry of power. So think about it– 100 men, 101
women, tiny level of asymmetry. What’s the asymmetry
in terms of power? Incredible. The men basically
have all the power. Now think about places
like San Francisco. Now San Francisco
actually has lots of types of dating markets. But if you think about the
heterosexual dating market, and you ask, what’s the
ratio of men to women? Or if you’re not politically
correct, you could say, what’s the ratio
of dateable men– what’s the
expression– to women? And if that ratio is such
that there are fewer men, then the power relationship
changes dramatically. LOGAN URY: Wow. DAN ARIELY: That’s
a little depressing. LOGAN URY: Well, it sounds
like from your advice, we shouldn’t live
in San Francisco or a suburb of Silicon Valley. We should all go canoeing
with our partners. We should have
arranged marriages. DAN ARIELY: By the
way, suburbs is OK. You don’t want to stay. You want to have
an equal income. LOGAN URY: OK, so equal
income wherever you live. And that we should opt for
the 35-minute colonoscopies. So with that in mind, let’s
open it up to questions. And Scott’s going
to take the mic. AUDIENCE: In the experiment you
described, 101 women and 100 men, this goes
with the assumption there is perfect
knowledge of the system. How does it work in imperfect
knowledge systems, which is the most real-world case? DAN ARIELY: Yeah. So when we run this
experiment, by the way, I usually run it with my
students on Valentine’s Day. So I take my students,
and usually, there’s more than this number, and
there’s never equal number. And it takes a
little bit of time, but the market solves itself. But of course, at any point in
time, you know if you’re alone, and you see who else is there,
the moment you’re alone, you ask to break people up. And also, in the real
market, not everybody wants to break up. So every time you have friction,
this effect will go down. So if we have loyalty. If somebody pairs
up with somebody, and even if they could
have somebody better, they don’t want to switch, this
creates friction in the system. So every time there’s friction
for either reasons of loyalty or lack of information and so
on, the effect will be less. But it doesn’t mean
it will go away. It would just be
a smaller effect. AUDIENCE: When I think
of being predictably irrational in the
context of relationships, I immediately think
of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” a lot
of these paradigmatic problems of why we argue with each
other is because we try and give the other person the
type of love and affection that we need. And we don’t understand
where they’re coming from, we misinterpret
what they’re saying. I’m just curious if
you have any comments about that general area. I don’t know how much of
those pieces of advice have actually been
put into practice, or if there are underlying
psychological mechanisms that explain them more. Because that still
seems like something that is underappreciated
in relationships. DAN ARIELY: Yeah. And I think the research on
that has not been that great. But we know, for example, that
people fight a lot about money. And fighting about
money is fighting about priorities in life. And some of those fights,
people don’t really understand what
they’re fighting about. They’re not understanding
that this pair of shoes is not really about the shoes,
or that this beer is not about this beer. So how do you give
people some freedom, and some control,
and some joint goals, is something we don’t know. I’m actually very
hopeful that we need some technological
solutions for that. So people are going
to be different. And there’s a question of, what
is the best way for couples to manage their
money, for example, in a way that gives them
some individual freedom without getting upset with
the other person, but also some commonality in
terms of their goals? And I think there’s all
kinds of interesting ways to think about, how would
we design joint checking accounts, and separate
accounts, and how much would we put in each of those
if we wanted people to at least not
fight about money? So I think we have to
recognize that there are going to be fights
about all kinds of things. And I’m not sure we
can always explain every fight, what it is about,
but how do we prevent those? One of the nicest differences
that we know about between men and
women is actually in dating, not in
a relationship. So you all know what
speed dating is about? Let’s say there are
10 men and 10 women. And they talk to one
person for five minutes. Then we ring a bell,
all the men switch. They talk to another person,
another bell, they switch. And at the end, they
give you a list. And they say, from
the 10 people I met, these are the four or five I
want to meet for a second date. So imagine two
speed dating events. One has 10 men and 10 women. And the other one has
20 men and 20 women. Now what happens to the number
of people you say yes to? What happens to the
number of people you say I want to meet them again? It could have two models. You can have a
model that says, I’m going to pick the top
three or the top x. And if you have that
model, it wouldn’t change whether you meet
10 people or 20 people because you just pick the top x. Or you could say,
I have a threshold. I’m going to pick
everybody who’s above 8. And then, of course,
if you pick above 8, when you move from 10 to 20,
there’ll be twice as many– on expectation– people
who pass the threshold. So what do you
think happens when people move from a small speed
dating event to a large one? Do they have, let’s call
it the budget approach, where they have a top x? Or do they have the
threshold approach, which says everybody above 8? AUDIENCE: Somewhere
in the middle. DAN ARIELY: Somewhere
in the middle? AUDIENCE: They probably
say yes to more people, but not on a one-to-one ratio. DAN ARIELY: OK. So every time you listen to a
talk, think about the question before. You just asked me about
gender differences, right? So there’s a gender
difference here as well. So men and women
are very different. Women basically behave
as if they have a budget. So when the group
becomes larger, women just become more
critical or more restrictive. They just say yes to–
their threshold goes up. And men say yes to the
same– they have a threshold. Everybody over 8. So their number
basically doubles. So this is actually one
of the biggest differences we’ve documented in dating. Sorry. AUDIENCE: So going
off of that point, I have a question about
the new Tinder world that we’re all living in. So I think I totally agree with
what you said earlier about how the mentality with having
Tinder and Hinge as an option, whether or not you’re on
those apps, it’s just grass is always greener, one
foot in, one foot out. I think one argument for
using the apps is that it’s more exposure to more people. So I’m not going to meet
as many people in a bar as I would if I decide
to swipe on Hinge. But I think what you
just said about how, does it just make women so
much more critical if you’re given so many more options? So do you think that in the
context of Hinge or Tinder, it’s better to be given
more exposure to more people so that your chances
are technically higher? Or are you just
infinitely more critical that it’s not going to have a
positive outcome either way? DAN ARIELY: Yeah. So what is the percentage of men
that you see on Hinge or Tinder that you’re proposing to
them to go for coffee? AUDIENCE: Me personally? DAN ARIELY: Yeah. AUDIENCE: It’s very minimal. DAN ARIELY: No, no. What is it? Are we talking 10%,
1%, a fraction? AUDIENCE: I think I’m 2%. DAN ARIELY: 2%. AUDIENCE: And I’m
not even asking. I’ll say yes if they ask. DAN ARIELY: You what? AUDIENCE: Maybe I will agree,
but I’m probably not one to proactively reach out. DAN ARIELY: So let’s say you see
1,000 people on Tinder, which is probably like 30 minutes. And how many of those
do you think, of 1,000, you say yes to 20? AUDIENCE: Sure. Uh, yes, yes, maybe more. But yes, let’s say. DAN ARIELY: 50 out of 1,000? So that’s half a percent. OK, so listen. The fact is that
in online dating– I haven’t seen the results from
Tinder– but in online dating, people reject most people. When you go to speed dating,
people say yes to more than 20% of the people they meet. It’s kind of shocking. 20%. You’re talking 2%,
you’re talking half. Part of the problem
is that in these apps, we don’t describe people in
a way that tells us anything about how to consume them. But in general, what does it
mean to be with that person? Imagine that the way we
describe food in restaurants is describing them
by their ingredients. You have this grams of protein,
and this number of vitamin D. And how much would that give
you any sense about what the food is like? 0. So now I think
about online dating. We describe to you
people by their height, and weight, and
religion, and so on. In what way is it
giving you any insight about what this person would be
like to go on a canoeing trip with? Not that much. So what happened is
you’re very risk averse, because the description of
the product is so mediocre. So you change your threshold. So in the spirit
of giving people the sense that all that
matters is the picture, I think we’re misclassifying
lots of people. And we have the Indian
experiment, but how many of you went to college in the US? How many of you became
really good friends with some of the people
that you shared a room with? Now think about it. This is the American version
of arranged marriages. Nobody said, oh, let’s go
through six months dating and then put you in
a room with somebody. It’s kind of a random process. Maybe they look at a
few characteristics. But lots of people report
that they got into a room with somebody and eventually
ended up loving that person. Now if you met this person,
would you predict it? Not so much. Here’s an experiment we did. Imagine we do it to you. Imagine I ask you for a list of
20 of your best friends and 20 people you like so-so. And then these 40
people, I ask them to fill up their
online dating platform on whatever, Match.com. And then I give those 40 to
you without the picture, so you don’t know exactly who it is. You don’t know the name. And then I say,
hey, we have people here that we think
you’ll like, and we have people that we think
you will not like so much. How well do you think you’ll
be able to sort them out? It’s terrible. It’s basically random. Think about your best friends. If they were online
dating, and you would look at their
profile, what would it be about them that you’d
say, oh my goodness, I want to be friends with
this person for 20 years. Is it their height,
eye color, BMI? I mean, what? It’s kind of crazy. And this is actually,
I think, a good point to think about at Google. Why do we describe people
this way in online dating? Because it’s easy. It’s meaningless
from the perspective of predicting who you would
actually like or don’t like. But it’s easy to do, and
it’s easy to search on. But just because it’s easy
to do and easy to search on doesn’t mean it’s
the right mechanism. Look, I want people
to find love. It’s a wonderful thing. We should promote that. But the companies who
are doing it, I think, are taking tremendous shortcuts. They’re trying to do things that
are easy rather than effective. And it’s a real shame. LOGAN URY: So what
question would you ask that you think would
actually be predictive? DAN ARIELY: So I think I would
not ask questions, actually. So let’s think
about online dating. What is the process of this? Is the process screening? Here are all the people
I don’t look like. I think that’s OK. I think you could
basically say, here are the people I
would never like. And I don’t think we even need
to show them to you to know that you don’t like them. So we did a study in which
we said, look, dating is a very special thing. Dating is actually going
through a shared experience. And through this
shared experience, you get to do something. So we did a speed dating
event in an old people home. This was not for sexual
activity, necessarily, but we wanted people
to meet each other. They just moved to
an old people home. And the first time
we did it was a bust. They were just sitting there,
like, what do you talk about? And then we asked them to
bring a meaningful object from their life. And the discussions
were amazing. And people got engaged, and
shared experience, and so on. So if I was doing online
dating, I would say, I want to do something where
people will share an experience in a quick and efficient
way so they don’t have to travel a long
distance and so on, but it will give them a sense of
what the other person is like. So would it be solving
a puzzle together? Or would it be listening
to music together? It could be all kinds of things. Facing moral dilemmas
of what do you do. I think all of
those things would be more effective than
something like this. So I think we’re
confusing two things. There’s the sorting
mechanism that says there’s too many
people, let me just focus on the group I care about. But when you say the
group you care about, it’s probably a large group. You shouldn’t sort it
too much because you miss some really wonderful people. And then we need a
different procedure. I had an idea once. How many people here
think that you’re not that good in making
first impressions? OK, quite a few of us. Online dating
right now is really built for people who could go
to and pick up people in a bar. It’s not very different. Imagine if you had a dating
website only for people who don’t do well in
first impressions, and you had a
different procedure. And you say, you know what? Let’s agree that
meeting somebody for coffee for 15 minutes
is not really the solution. Let’s agree that we’ll meet for
three times over three weeks. We’ll not come up to
judgments too early. And let’s try to
create something where people actually– I’m not recommending
the dorm experience where you’re locked with
somebody for a semester, but let’s make something
where you actually are committed to finding
out something about somebody for a while rather than having
these quick judgments which I think are awful. Not so good. AUDIENCE: So you mentioned
the Ashley Madison episode. And I read an article
after that came out that like 90% of the female
accounts were actually faked. They were basically
just employees of the company that were
talking to men as– I mean, it fits with your
thesis of conversation. But I’m wondering, do you
think the trend still holds? Or is it just that all
these female accounts existed in rich
countries because that’s where the employees made them? DAN ARIELY: So we looked only
at active accounts [INAUDIBLE] accounts. And we had data so we
could separate this. Our estimation of how
many accounts were fake was very different than
what other people had. But we looked at
active accounts that I don’t think people made up. We also had
geographic variation. So we could tell
you by zip code. So we could tell
you that Palo Alto is different than Los Gatos. AUDIENCE: Hi. I would just like
to know if there’s any sites and relationship
differences between regions where there’s more tropical
weather, where you have more body exposure, and in places
where colder weather would have less body exposure. Because there’s less
filling the gaps, leaving it to the
imagination, at least in a physical perspective. DAN ARIELY: Yeah,
so the site that leaves the least amount
of room for imagination is called Manhunt. I don’t know if you’ve
been on that site, but it’s really an amazing site. When we did this,
we did some work. So you know what’s
called labor analysis? Labor analysis is
an analysis in which I take all your individual
characteristics– your height, your weight, your education,
all kinds of things– and I regress it on your salary. And this is the kind of
research you do to find out what is the income gap. That men make more money
for the same job holding everything else equal. So we did the same
analysis for online dating. We said, let’s look at you
and all your characteristics, and let’s find what makes you
attractive in online dating. And one of the things we
found was that women really care about men’s what? Height. Actually, tremendously so. So I’m 5′ 9″. If I wanted to be as successful
as somebody who is 5′ 10″ in online dating,
how much more money would I have to make a year? What do you guess? AUDIENCE: $10,000. DAN ARIELY: It’s about $40. It’s about $40. Now just to be
clear, you can ask, are women really
that superficial? And the answer is yes and no. Partially, the
website, of course, gets women to search on height. So if you search and you say,
I want somebody who’s 5′ 10″, you’ll never see somebody who’s
a real sweetheart but 5′ 9″. So sometimes, search
actually can take something that people have as a bias or as
a tendency, and exaggerate it. But anyway, women care
a lot about height. By the way, men care
a lot about BMI. And how much would
a woman with a BMI of, let’s say 21, how
much more would she have to make to be as attractive
as a woman who has a BMI of 20? AUDIENCE: Nothing. DAN ARIELY: We can’t
estimate it because men don’t care how much money women make. Anyway, so this guy
called me up from Manhunt. And he said, look, the online
dating markets on Match or whatever it is
confuses two things. There’s some people who are
there for the long term, and some people there
for the short term. And he said, let’s
look at a website that just focuses on the short term. So he gave me his
password for Manhunt. And it’s an amazing website
because they basically don’t even show a picture
of the whole body. It’s kind of– uh. Um. So there are cultural
differences about what part you show. But I actually think it’s
complex because it also shows something about
what kind of relationship you want, long-term, short-term,
other things like that as well. LOGAN URY: That’s a
good note to end on. DAN ARIELY: Is it? LOGAN URY: Yeah. So thank you all for
coming, and thank you, Dan. [APPLAUSE]