In 2021, the Stanford Marriage Pact spread to more than 60 campuses nationwide. Since originating as a final project in an economics class in 2017, more than 200,000 college students have participated in the survey, expressing their values and beliefs with the hopes of being algorithmically matched with a compatible long-term romantic partner.
Its reach did not spare Katherine Luong, now a senior at Cornell University, majoring in human development with a concentration on relationship psychology. She took the Cornell Marriage Pact last year and joined the company’s mailing list. Then a message from the company popped up in her inbox. Inside were job openings for social psychologists.
“After a few interviews, I guess they liked what they saw, and I was hired,” Luong said. “This kind of fell on me out of the blue, and I’m really grateful for it.”
When she joined part-time, Luong was on the product team for the Marriage Pact with two other recruits. The role wasn’t a perfect match, so they created an offshoot that became the questionnaire team.
Together, the three recruits maintain the infrastructure of the questionnaire, integrate the questions with new products and consult with other members of the company to decide how their proprietary algorithm ranks the importance of different survey responses. In short: they’re in charge of the mechanism that might determine your future spouse.
The questionnaire team has developed a way to model a successful long-term relationship, which is based on four meta-levels: personality, basic values, romantic tendencies and building a shared life. It’s called the “bucket system,” according to Luong.
Of all the buckets, “Personality” is the most difficult metric to capture, so the team uses the HEXACO model to further deconstruct that component into more concrete attributes:
- Honesty-humility: a tendency to be fair and authentic toward others
- Emotionality: a measure of neuroticism or how predisposed an individual is to experience negative moods
- Extraversion: the degree to which an individual is energized by being around many people
- Agreeableness: how cooperative, patient or compassionate someone is
- Conscientiousness: a tendency to take responsibilities seriously and do what is believed to be morally right
- Openness to experience: an index of how imaginative an individual is, aesthetic appreciation, attunement to one’s feelings and …….