“We were like, ‘We have so much time, let’s do this.’” While the rest of the students dutifully fulfilled the class requirement of writing a single paper about an algorithm, Sterling-Angus and Mc Gregor decided to design an entire study, hoping to solve one of life’s most complex problems.
The idea was to match people not based solely on similarities (unless that’s what a participant values in a relationship), but on complex compatibility questions.
Next year the study will be in its third year, and Mc Gregor and Sterling-Angus tentatively plan to launch it at a few more schools including Dartmouth, Princeton, and the University of Southern California.
But it’s unclear if the project can scale beyond the bubble of elite college campuses, or if the algorithm, now operating among college students, contains the magic key to a stable marriage.
As a former practicing lawyer who also holds a graduate degree in philosophy, Jasbina can relate first-hand to the demands and challenges facing her accomplished clients.
Siena Streiber, an English major at Stanford University, wasn’t looking for a husband.
As Streiber and her date chatted, “It became immediately clear to me why we were a 100 percent match,” she said.
They’ve run the experiment two years in a row, and last year, 7,600 students participated: 4,600 at Stanford, or just over half the undergraduate population, and 3,000 at Oxford, which the creators chose as a second location because Sterling-Angus had studied abroad there.
“As you turn that dial and look at five-month, five-year, or five-decade relationships, what matters really, really changes.