Rape Fantasies and Hygiene By State

June 25th, 2009 by Chris Coyne

For OkCupid‘s inaugural blog post, I’ve picked a few match questions and will be showing you some cool graphs. Graphs you’ll never find elsewhere.

But first, a reminder: OkCupid match questions are written by OkCupid users, not by staff. The community writes the questions, and our software simply asks them. Good questions climb to the top, and new users are asked to answer these first. By “good” I mean people (1) disagree over them and (2) feel strongly about them. God and sex are hot topics, as you’d expect. So are dating expectations, personal politics, and habits.

And a word about statistical validity: the best questions on OkCupid have been answered over a million times. Therefore we have unique insights into the American mindset. A quick comparison:

OkCupid Question Popularity

Old media could only get 3,050 people to answer a poll about Obama. And it was enough to call the election with confidence.

OkCupid, on the other hand, can ask the world’s most personal questions and get hundreds of thousands of answers. For example, here’s a provocative match question posed by a user:

OkCupid Sample Question

300,000 people have answered that question in 3 parts, and there are thousands more questions with as large or larger data sets.

Yesterday, I wrote a Python jam that consolidates the data by state and plots the trends using Google’s chart API. I plotted a handful of questions, and what follows are a few of the more exciting results.

OkCupid Rules

Would you consider role-playing out a RAPE FANTASY with partner who asked you to?

OkCupid Rape Fantasy


data set: 340,000 people answered

The few states skewing green said “Yes” more than the national average, and the reddish states said “No” more. Perfectly yellow states (like Virginia and Tennessee) answered “Yes” and “No” in the same proportion as the nation as a whole. It’s worth pointing out that because there are only a handful of greenish states and yet roughly a dozen reddish ones on the other side of the mean, those few green ones came down very strongly in favor of rape role-playing compared to the rest of the country. It’s also worth pointing out that cattle outnumber women 26:1 in Wyoming.

Here’s the same question, plotted on Europe:

OkCupid Rape Fantasy Europe


As you can see, the original England skewed the same as the brand New England. And there’s a strong interest in consent play in Lithuania. Sadly, countries in white have too little data for conclusions; maybe in a year we’ll be able to look deeper in those places.

Would you date someone just for the sex?

Just For the Sex


data set: 448,000 people answered

I guess I didn’t know what I was expecting from this question; maybe that the more “metropolitan” places would be greener and the more “rural” ones redder, and while that turned out somewhat true (for New York at least), the overall geographic continuity of this plot was a big surprise. I guess things are literally more wide-open in the West, and it looks like the depression is hitting more than just pocketbooks in the near Midwest. Is the Rust Belt now the Chastity Belt?

How often do you bathe or shower?

Bathe or Shower


data set: 261,000 people answered

This is a good example of results that seems surprising at first, but make sense after some thought: it stands to reason people in hot and/or humid states must shower more regularly. I’d be very interested to hear from any New Mexicans why their state bucks this logic; I suppose there are a lot of mountains there, so maybe it should have more in common with Colorado than with its other neighbors. Those of us up North skip once in a while, probably in the Winter. Vermont and Oregon are earthy as hell.

Should burning your nation’s flag be illegal?

Flag burning

Attempts to chart this question state-by-state yielded indifferent results, which makes sense since a person’s answer is fairly closely tied to his general political views and only a few states show extreme (far-off-the-norm) tendencies one way or the other on that. Digging deeper, I plotted this question by latitude and longitude. And now the results really show what’s going on: only people in cities believe flag burning should be legal. And even then, many conservative cities are opposed. Look at Texas: Austin, a liberal college town, is surrounded by Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. It’s interesting that Florida, even though it went blue in the last election, is almost entirely red here.

OkCupid Rules

These are just a few of the thousands of questions we have in our database. Are there any other you’d like us to analyze? I’d be happy to; just drop me a line. Either way, I hope you enjoy these graphs and the discussion. I had a lot of fun programming them. We’re going to be posting similar back-end and data discussions on this blog every week, so see you next time. Also, just so you know: though we plan to discuss and manipulate user data on this blog, it will always be anonymized.

OkCupid Rules

OkCupid is totally free, so if you’ve stumbled on this blog entry, check out www.okcupid.com. If you’re an existing OkCupid user, invite your friends! Become a pixel in our graphs!

211 Responses to “Rape Fantasies and Hygiene By State”

  1. Gavin Weld White says:

    Fascinating & awesome – thank you! Fascinating stuff. As an Oregonian and a native Vermonter, color me unoffended (and, I guess, cleaner than most of my neighbors).

    For added usefulness, use statistical weighting to correct the bias. Thanks to stats-lovers for pointing out the need for this.

    There are so many questions I’d love to know about, it’s hard to say which are most interesting to me – all the suggestions so far would draw my attention. I think I’m actually more interested to see all the maps in the same scatterplot style as your map of nationalists & patriots.

    And I’ll add my voice to the chorus requesting maps that use colors I can see (10% of the male population is red-green color-blind); try yellow-to-blue instead – blue-yellow color-blindness is vanishingly rare by comparison.

    In the category of wishful thinking: team up with google (for their server-time, if not for API coding), open an API for your data, and let people make mashups of OKC-data & googlemaps. Maybe sweeten it for google by reminding them they’ll be among the folks who get to use the (anonymized) user-data for their advertising system.

    And yeah, as this data becomes more accessible, it will drive choices about where people live. Burbclaves, anyone? Along with the growing social web, this is another piece of the puzzle facilitating the emergence of the congenial economy.


  2. Gabe says:

    Interesting stuff. As mentioned by a few others below, I’d love to see the data plotted against gender, age, etc. It would be great to see this information next to each question. It wouldn’t have to be real-time, maybe just updated weekly or monthly.

  3. Ibod Catooga says:

    You should ask how many women like anal.

    Where they like it the most, I want to move there!

  4. Patrik says:

    I do data mining research and I am an OKC user. I joined because I recognized OKC’s methods as being very similar to recommender systems and I wanted to see how it worked. I would love to see an API for accessing anonymized data to play around with. However, anonymization is a hard problem and there’s a lot of data that could be correlated to a person’s profile even with the obvious bits removed. I suppose for such an API you would have to make the queries so that they would only be specifiable in very broad dimensions i.e. state or at least multi-county level, delta-T > week, etc. Here are the guys who broke the Netflix data anonymization: http://arxiv.org/abs/cs/0610105

  5. Pyrona says:

    Hah, excellent work! I originally started playing around with OKC back when it was in beta because I was intrigued by the matching algorithm. I never really kicked the habit, though the novelty has started to wear off a bit… but this article really tweaks my geekery again. Thanks!

  6. Michael says:


    I’d like to talk to the programmer who did this. Especially about using longitude and latitude to generate your graph. I’m a C++ programmer and have a use for such an algorithm.


  7. Evan says:

    I’m agreeing with some other posters here who have already pointed out that in the world of statistics, this wouldn’t be considered a valid sample upon which to draw conclusions about the general public.

    For one, you have people who volunteer to answer them. These people sought out the interview, and went through it, possibly for hours.

    For another, the vast majority of those people were doing so in the motivation to either find a love partner or a sex partner. They want some action. When was the last time YOU LIED to get some action? I don’t do it often…I prefer honesty…but this is sex and love we’re talking about here. And in those instances, people lie through their teeth.

    How many clicked “No” to the rape fantasy thing simply because they want to get laid? Yep. A ton of em.

    It is interesting…yes…but valid or accurate? Probably not.

    Hopefully not. God, please God…I’m praying for NOT.

    If that many people are ignorant enough to want laws banning freedom of expression…GOD HELP THIS NATION! Our founding fathers would vomit! Very, very troubling. No wonder jackasses like Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama get elected.

    PT Barnum allegedly once said that, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

    Well, you can quote ME on this: “Nobody ever failed to get elected by underestimating the reactionary and backward thinking of the average American voter.”

    Generally, I’m an optimist, but WHOA NELLY…what an ugly statistic. It says more than just about anything I’ve read here, and makes me lose a little of my faith in my fellow humans.

  8. Evan says:

    I just read more of the comments, including this: “That said, we’re working on some cool graphs that let you see the world color-coded by how well you match people.”

    WOW! Now THAT would be a cool feature. Here’s my suggestion…the “if I were in charge of adding a cool new whizbang feature to OKCupid.”

    Have it that once a user has answered 1000 questions, they automatically get a generated map of their very own that shows where the people that match them best live, and how many. Then re-generate the map for them every time they add another X questions of to their profile (where X is a big number…say 250, 500…something like that). It would encourage users to hit that 1000 mark quickly (YAY! Better matches!) and it would also be a great way to see where the people we want to love live.

    And if you do it, please include a feature that breaks down the major cities in each state. Most of us live in cities or near them, so it’s more useful to know that the people like me are in Houston…than to know that they’re in Texas. That should be obvious, but I wanted to point it out anyway.

  9. phil says:

    Vocabulary question: What do you mean by “python jam”?

    Is “jam” just a new trendy word for script? I googled, but only found an announcement by Guido about “Code Jam’s” at Google, and quite a few references to the jam make replacement.

  10. Jeremy Gillick says:

    Michael, I’m not sure how they did it, but Google and Yahoo provide Geocoding API’s that provide a really easy way to translate an address or postal code into a latitude and longitude coordinate. You can even pass it a partial address and it will respond with several possible matches.

  11. Jeremy Gillick says:

    This stuff is great. It would be really awesome to have a link next to each question that would lead to a page where the user can graph the information. It would not only be a fun toy but provide useful information and visuals for students and researchers.

  12. Joe Zack says:

    Very interesting, would love to see more and am looking forward to future posts!

  13. Timm says:

    When answering (or asking) survey questions, the wording is very important to me. I’ve not seen this survey before, but if the question asks “Would you consider” something, I would not make the leap to assuming that everyone who answered “Yes” is “very strongly in favor”.

    I would consider it (I’ll *consider* any proposal made by my partner — what kind of partner would I be if I didn’t?) and then probably reject it. I’m neither so smart nor closed-minded to think that I can reject a proposition outright, without even considering it.

    The wording of other questions is odd, too. “Should burning your nation’s flag be illegal?” is kind of hilarious, given that burning is, by law, the recommended “dignified” method of disposing of old flags. Is this to see if we know the U.S. Flag Code? To see if we advocate changing it? To see if we believe other methods of destruction are more “dignified”?

    I suppose the intent is to see if we believe the 1st Amendment (and the Flag Code) should be amended, but even that is kind of a strange question, given that the country was founded by dissidents who obviously showed much less respect for their previous government.

  14. Vishal Patel says:

    One of the coolest blog entries I’ve ever read. Keep em’ coming OkCupid!

  15. donaxe says:

    I’m twitting this! Again, very impressive job.

  16. Dude says:

    Great idea. But. Ever hear of something called red-green colorblindness? About 10% of males have it (and only a tiny fraction of 1% of females). Generally speaking, you do not want to color a graph in shades of red and green or you fail to communicate data to 10% of your audience, and infuriate some of them because they wonder surely this has occurred to your programmers before?
    If it’s just a matter of comparing a particular red to a particular green, many of us can cheat by using the luminosity. But no, you have these maps with *graded hues*. Virtually impossible to read except for the dark red, which is darker than the darkest green, and the yellow which is in the middle.
    I recommend you switch to, uh, almost any other combination of colors. Yellow/blue, red/blue, red/yellow, black/white… all of these will work fine.

  17. dan says:

    awesome. bullet charts by state and county would be very nice too.

  18. J says:

    Would love to see some analysis of the polyamory questions. It seems like a disproportionate % of the questions I have answered relate to fidelity, so its clearly a major user interest.


  19. Jacob Rothstein says:

    Chris, thanks for the work and careful presentation.

    Is there any hope of getting a data api or dump for independent exploration, obviously anonymized? The sheer amount of data that you have is a real treasure and the degree to which hobbyists could mine that data for “just for fun” / public interest purposes probably extends beyond the focus of your company. Opening up the data would probably generate great press, too. Thanks!

  20. oklady says:

    Yes! Interesting! More of this, please!

  21. Psuedoknot says:

    This is interesting. My state of PA is very conservative in rape fantasy and casual sex, but only showers most days. Nevada is very “loose”, but their hygiene is much better.

    My conclusion: whores wash the sin off more often.

  22. Pingback: EvilCON » State By State Statistics on Rape Fantasy

  23. Gabe says:

    I lived in Santa Fe for a few years, so I can weigh in on the New Mexico question. Most of the population in NM is clustered in the central northern part of the state which is relatively high elevation (higher than Denver). Santa Fe is at 7000′ and so temperatures are quite cool (see http://countrystudies.us/united-states/weather/new-mexico/santa-fe.htm). The sun is strong, but it is very dry, and tends to be windy or at least breezy most of the time. New Mexico is also unique in that unlike the rest of the US it has a distinct monsoon during the hottest months of July and August, where small localized storms create extremely heavy downpours on a daily basis (seeing the sun shining through a torrential downpour is an incredible sight I’ve only witnessed in NM). Because of the desert climate every night is cool. There are no sweaty summer nights at all, I never needed AC or even a fan. And winters can be surprisingly cold. I got up at 4am one January morn and it was -14° Fahrenheit.

    In short, NM is a great place to be an unwashed hippy.

  24. Saverio Miroddi says:

    Very funny, and interesting as well! :-)

  25. Birgit says:

    Very interesting, thanks! It would be even better (sorry if someone said that already, 61 comments and not much time!) if you had a bit of info on what the national average is on the yes/no questions, and how much “more” the extreme points are.
    Meaning, it’d make a big difference for example if 10% nationwide would date someone just for the sex, but 50% in Nevada, or if the average is 50% and it’s 70% in Nevada. You know what I mean, you’re the mathematicians.

  26. chris says:

    Jacob, and others who’ve asked for an API: we’ve considered releasing anonymized copies of our question DB. There are privacy considerations, however. If someone’s the only gender * orientation * age at some latitude and longitude, you could tell their answers. We’re obviously very protective of this.

  27. chris says:

    Colorblind Dude – I’ll take this into consideration for future graphs. Apologies!

  28. chris says:

    donaxe – thanks for the tweet!

  29. Jen says:

    Nice graphs and interesting info! A+++
    Now make more please 😉

    aka xoBrattyJenxo
    aka girl who wants more graphs damn it!!!

  30. 100bngalaxies says:

    Despite its low latitude, mountainous New Mexico has relatively cool temperatures, as well as very low humidity, so it’s not surprising that people don’t bathe there as much as other states of similar latitude.

    This geographic parsing of the data is fascinating. Might in many cases be more informative by county than state (if possible).

  31. Matt says:

    I’m sorry for folks from New Hampshire… they’re more into rape fantasies, but also shower less than average. I’m pretty sure that correlation is a bad thing.

  32. Fred says:

    I find this really interesting and, despite other posters’ valid criticisms, as scientifically useful as a poll conducted by gallup or rasmussen. Here’s why: if you look at how those polls are conducted, the most glaring sampling error these days is the cell phone problem. Phone based polling does not use cell phones in there registries, excluding those who don’t have a landline anymore. These days, thats a lot of young/ tech savvy people. This “polling” suffers the exact opposite problem. While that is certainly something that must be accounted for when making judgments, it is no less valid than a landline telephone poll.

    On a personal note, as someone who spends a lot of time in both Austin and Houston, that city by city plot was interesting; I would like to see even more detailed maps with more than two shades. The other Texas cities are slowly getting bluer, or at least they have been over the last five or so years, and I imagine a tool like this could provide an interesting view of that.

  33. Michael says:

    Very interesting! I’m such a nerd for this kind of thing.

    Any chance of doing a similar geographical breakdown for Canada? I want to see if any regional stereotypes are confirmed/debunked!

  34. BookWyrm85 says:

    Interesting new feature

  35. Chippr says:

    Chris, check Digg. They’re blocking your blog as a violation of their ToS due to the title of your post, which is a huge mistake on their part as this is an extremely interesting and informative blog! Make them see the light.

    My website link will redirect you to submitting on Digg.

  36. james says:

    Can you show the graph for the quesiton, “What is your opinion of a male-led relationship?”. I think that’s the question.

    It’d be very interesting to see how it breaks down in our country depending on region and stuff.

  37. Matt says:

    I got those backwards… New Hampshirites are OK Almost just completely ruined my opinion of the state for naught.

  38. Jacob Rothstein says:

    Chris, I imagine most researchers would be willing to sign some document stating that they would only release data in aggregate. I certainly would be. Please contact me by email (jacob AT stormweight.com) if this becomes a possibility.

  39. Rosadebi says:

    Hygiene and sex.

    If you want someone all over your body doing wonderful, interesting things to you, you should smell wonderful too.

    Show me where the “clean men” are.

  40. LZA says:

    Stat maps are always interesting. Forgive me, for I have no suggestions on how to improve your method of sampling.

    I’d always wondered if “How often do you bathe or shower?” is related to climate. In my personal experience it certainly has been. Living in hot, humid weather makes daily showers mandatory, but a series of cool, dry days, coupled with a low level of activity, make it easy to skip some.

    The results for “Would you date someone just for the sex?” are still mysterious. Does the spirit of The Great Lakes frown upon dating for sex?

    Are Alaska and Hawaii white because they do not offer enough data for conclusions to be made?

    The graph for “Should burning your nation’s flag be illegal?” is very disappointing. “Bow down to the flag; you’ve got a bullet in your head.”

    In response to “I wonder what else that state has in common with Georgia,” maybe I’m dense, but what commonality are you referencing? Vermont is red, while Georgia is yellow.

    I look forward to seeing more fresh jams. Thank you.

  41. Bolbox says:

    So I noticed both Alaska and Hawaii are whited out on those charts. Has no one in either state answered those questions? Or have so few answered that you can’t safely say that either state mostly thinks a certain way compared to the overall population?

  42. Chris Pryor says:


    This is *brilliant*. You have a data on your hands that literally doesn’t exist anywhere else.

    I think that the volume of responses you have creates it’s own kind of legitimacy and relevance in a way that steps completey out of the traditional poll company paradigm.

    Please do consider releasing your anonymized copies of your question database. I would love to have the opportunity to ask you to run analytics on some of your other juicier questions. I have a feeling that even some of the less obviously juicy questions would yield some fascinating results.

    Please add me to your list of contacts, if you decide to release the questions — chris AT alphamark.com.

    Thanks for compiling this!

  43. andr0m3da says:

    it’s too bad this story can’t be dugg because of the rape crap.

  44. lonelocust says:

    Though a few others have already weighed in on the New Mexico question, I want to also weigh in having lived in quite a few different areas (7 states in my adult life). I bathe by far the least here than anywhere I have lived. As several have mentioned, the bulk of the population is in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, both higher in elevation than Denver and generally extremely dry. We only have smotheringly high temperatures in the daytime for the worst part of the summer, and even then shade provides a cool overall effect and low rate of sweating. I additionally find that I produce less skin grease here. This generally means I don’t get acne in the fashion I have living other places, which leads to less of an urge to wash my face often, and a higher amount of time between necessary hair washes.

  45. justin says:

    you should add this as a feature on the site to view the data for any question on there. it would be like that feature on the Wii.

  46. jordosaxman says:

    I agree with Patrik. Customizing the data would be tricky due to how it could possibly be linked to user data in a rare circumstance. What would be fantastic would be a map where you could select different characteristics to map the question by. For example:

    Ages: 22-26
    Gender: Female
    Race: White

    and use those characteristics to view the data for those same questions. But again this brings into question the anonymity factor. Perhaps you could limit it to 3 variables, that way it would be harder to track. OR you could allow an Opt-out feature, to exclude people’s results from the map if they were uncomfortable about their answers possibly being discovered via a person narrowing it down (i.e. if there’s only 1 person from zip code “xxxxx”, and that user enjoys rape fantasy according to the map, then obviously the woman from that zip code likes it). Her secret would be out and she’d probably be pissed. A lot of privacy factors to figure into this but overall I’m very impressed and glad that you took the time to do this.

  47. jordosaxman says:

    HOWEVER I just read the person who suggested lat/lon to graph it. This takes the guess work out of it. This is not a good idea my friend, sorry.

  48. LZA says:

    It’s not even rape, per se. It’s rape fantasies, which are very different in practice. But… it IS the word “rape”, so… yeah.

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  50. a_frayn says:

    I’d love to see maps like this that include Canada. It’s really fascinating.