"We don't know ourselves very well on a descriptive level."The same is true for the millions of Match users, says Ginsberg, and she tried to incorporate dissonance into the algorithm."I might come in and say I'm looking for a nice Catholic guy between 30 and 40 who is non-married," she says."But after weeks of looking at people, I might get an e-mail from a guy who has kids, and I might accept that. All that data goes into algorithms and affects who we put in front of you."To sort expressed ideals from actual desires, Ginsberg realised she would need some technical help.After becoming executive vice-president and general manager of Match's North American operations in 2008, Ginsberg initially looked to her old employer, i2, for assistance.You meet her criteria, and she meets yours, so you're a good match," Thombre explained."But when we researched the data the whole idea of dissonance came into focus.But what you say and what you do can be different."Academics call this "dissonance"."It's a theme that runs through social psychological literature," says Andrew Fiore, a visiting assistant professor at Michigan State University, who works on computer-mediated communication.
Despite being in a mid-rise office tower overlooking a turnpike in the dry, landlocked city of Dallas, Texas, the Match offices are evocative of a racier environment, where anything might happen.Then, while still at i2, she became involved with an engineer at the company who was born halfway across the world. "If I had laid out a criteria for what I was looking for, it would not have been a guy from south India," she told me. You're constantly making trade-offs about who's too tall, too short, too smart and too dumb.People come in and tell us a bit about what they're looking for.Central to this effort has been the development, over the past two years, of an improved matchmaking algorithm. "If you say you want a guy between 30 and 35 in New York who has a master's degree, you're going to get thousands of matches."Codenamed "Synapse", the Match algorithm uses a variety of factors to suggest possible mates.