If you want to know if a prospective date is relationship material, just ask them three questions, says Christian Rudder, one of the founders of US internet dating site OKCupid.
Do you like horror movies?”
“Have you ever travelled around another country alone?”
“Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?”
Why? Because these are the questions first date couples agree on most often, he says.
Mr Rudder discovered this by analysing large amounts of data on OKCupid members who ended up in relationships.
Dating agencies like OKCupid, Match.com – which acquired OKCupid in 2011 for $50m (£30m) – eHarmony and many others, amass this data by making users answer questions about themselves when they sign up.
Some agencies ask as many as 400 questions, and the answers are fed in to large data repositories. Match.com estimates that it has more than 70 terabytes (70,000 gigabytes) of data about its customers.
Applying big data analytics to these treasure troves of information is helping the agencies provide better matches for their customers. And more satisfied customers mean bigger profits.