A 2021 Penn Campus Report detailing the results of data collected through the Penn Marriage Pact, an algorithm-based matching service, was released on Jun. 9 by the Marriage Pact organization.
The Marriage Pact was founded at Stanford University in 2017 to match students with potential romantic partners through an online survey. The project came to Penn after a team of six Penn students developed Penn-specific questions or statements for the survey, along with Penn-specific marketing techniques. Over 2,700 Penn students responded to the matching questionnaire in March — about 25% of Penn’s total undergraduate population.
The matching questionnaire consisted of over 50 questions that asked respondents about their background and partner preferences, along with Penn-specific questions such as, "Are you smarter than most people at Penn?" Students were then paired with one person who they are either compatible with romantically or as friends.
The 2021 Penn Campus Report included information about Penn students who responded to the matching questionnaire, such as political affiliation, gender differences to question responses, and relationship status.
The results showed that the smartest self-reported major was mathematics, and the "easiest" major — based on "your preference for kinky sex and how long you wait to have sex" — was business economics and public policy. The most “Machiavellian” major was finance, followed by chemistry and mathematics.
“We aggregated several of our questions (revenge, getting ahead, etc.) to shed light into Machiavellian tendencies. Unsurprisingly, finance came out as #1,” the report read.
About 60% of respondents self-reported as Democrats, 21% as Independent, 7% as Socialist, and 6% as Republican. More Republicans than Democrats believed that making more money than peers was very important. More than 60% of respondents were without a romantic partner, and senior mathematical economics majors were most likely to be single, according to the report.
“Who’s the most single at Penn? An independent, senior Mathematical Economics major, apparently. And if you’re into conservative juniors, best of luck, because they’re taken,” the report said.
Rising Wharton junior and 2023 Class Board President Derek Nhieu, who helped bring the Marriage Pact to Penn, said he believed that the matching questionnaire was an effective way to address loneliness brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do think that this was one effort," Nhieu said. "I don’t think [the Marriage Pact], obviously, was a cure-all solution, although I do know that there are a lot of really interesting stories that happened from it."
In total, Marriage Pact has made over 68,192 matches across college campuses and has resulted in an actual marriage, according to the Marriage Pact website.
With the results now released, Nhieu said that past data and privacy concerns have mostly subsided, and the Marriage Pact organization has handled individual complaints. The report also states that respondents’ aggregated data “[are] solely intended for the Penn community’s enjoyment, and will never be sold or shared for commercial purposes.”
Unlike Tinder and other matchmaking services, the Marriage Pact only offers one-to-one person matching, inspired by a Nobel Prize-winning system known as the deferred acceptance algorithm. Students who responded to the matching questionnaire and were most alike based on their responses were matched.
Besides Penn, the Marriage Pact has been brought to 54 other schools across the United States, including Vanderbilt University, Yale University, Princeton University, and Duke University, according to the website.
The analyses from the report only included data from students who identify as men and women, excluding non-binary student data. Some of the statements in the questionnaire sparked debate among the student body, including “Gender roles exist for a good reason,” “I would be disappointed if my partner gained weight,” and “I’m comfortable with my child being gay.”
Nhieu said that moving forward, he hopes to work directly with the Marriage Pact organization to reword more sensitive questions and to address concerns about inclusivity.
“We still want the actual results to be accurate and realistically portray the student body in a way that is as genuine as possible. We do want to be respectful to people’s concerns,” Nhieu said.
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