A study published today in Internet Sociology shows a correlation between the popularity of dating website OKCupid and the number of ugly babies. Steven Gilford, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, first noticed a link when he observed that a Salsa Dancing for Couples class he attended recreationally was getting lots of new members. “Most of the new couples were, to put it politely, quite unattractive,” said Gilford. “Just heinous, both the men and the women. So I asked them where they met, and more often than not, the answer was ‘on OKCupid.’”
Gilford hypothesized that the explosion of zero-cost Internet dating was finally allowing people at the bottom of the dating barrel to meet each other, date, and, eventually reproduce. “Statistics on OKCupid usage already existed, so the hard part was getting data on the babies. This probably won’t come as a surprise, but hospitals don’t keep records of how ugly their babies are.” Gilford’s breakthrough was assembling the data himself, paying interns to photograph each newborn at Ann Arbor’s three hospitals and then personally assessing those photographs for attractiveness. Gilford then double-checked this data against records of birth defects.
While the study in question only analyzes Ann Arbor, it may have broader significance. Notes Gilford, “University towns are early adopters of technology, so what happened in Ann Arbor could spread everywhere.”