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

Scale

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

Scale

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

Scale

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

Scale

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. brookswift says:

    I don’t think that okcupid users are representative of the general population. Eharmony or Match.com is probably closer catching ‘mainstream’ people. In fact, I would guess that most okcupid users fail eharmony’s matching system. So for all of you grad students thinking about the great paper you could write, you’d first have note the differences between the okcupid user population and the general public.

    We’re a mostly alternative crowd here on okcupid. I do love the idea of searching for question answers by geographic region and especially sex/orientation as a way to improve matching.

  2. Brandon says:

    This is really fascinating stuff. I hope you’ll keep periodically posting these graphs in the future. With so much pressure being applied by gay groups on the Obama administration, maybe it’d be timely to do graphs on OKC’s questions on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” gay marriage, and if homosexuality is a sin?

  3. Punk Patriot says:

    When are we going to get to play around with the new toy?

    Even in a beta stage?

  4. Gypsy says:

    I really would like to see these dynamically generated and available on any question that has sufficient numbers of answers…. also it would be cool to break it out by demographic.

    For example, how does the map of people who think rape fantasies change based on gender?

  5. Gypsy says:

    What are the chances of releasing an API so people could write their own statistical correlation engines?

    For example, lets say girls who play chess are a turn on, and I want to see if most of them are dog people or cat people so I know what kind of pet to get to have the best chance of relating with my fantasy girl who will play hot steaming naked chess games with me all night…. I want to write that engine that finds out if I should own a dog or a cat to best attract her!

  6. damien says:

    This is incredibly fascinating!

    Oh, and the graphs about hygiene per state: It may have something to do with the fact that the Southeaster states that are extremely green are also extremely humid. I just got back from Savannah, Georgia and I felt like I needed to take a shower as soon as I stepped off of the plane :)

  7. deebats says:

    I’m from new mexico, its forking hot here! half the time I need to take COLD showers, when I lived in colorado I hated the thought of taking a cold shower. its kind of funny. kind of makes me wonder how many of the girls I talk to don’t shower every day. hmm…

  8. winnowedsoul says:

    I this is is very fun!…I have been a member for years…from the beginning actually when the “personalities” were just wierd creatures and the site was still a part of spark, before okcupid was even a website…yeah that long no I have not been single that long but this is a fun site to play around with…have many an unsucessful date from here…but that is what dating is about …it’s all a numbers game and I LOVE that they are now tallying the numbers in fun meaningful-meaningless yet oh so fun fact junkie data cruncher style…purty pictures…keep it and and I migth stay entertained!

    -S

  9. Ashley says:

    These were cool, I really like the one, “Should it be illegal to burn your nation’s flag?”

  10. Brett says:

    I think you have to look at a couple of different possibilities when you are looking at the self confidence results. How do the people in each region view online dating? How do they measure self worth? Notice that Florida is as high as it can be? It seems to me that people in the south tie in their self worth to organizations within the state, like the Florida Gators for example. I think in the North, where things are more industrialized and based on your pay scale or your level of education, it is far more individualized. Add that into the fact that in my state (Wisconsin) people are not as open about internet dating as other areas, and that might explain how we end up being on the opposite end of the spectrum. When I look around I don’t see the lack of self confidence, but I think that is the kind of internet dater you are more likely to get from around here.

  11. it8myshoes says:

    would love to see more graphs/maps for europe (altho alas by beloved ireland didn’t even register on the only stat-map you had for europe).

    by the way, is it possible for europe/EU to be treated as a whole and broken down by longitude/latitude as you did in the “flag burning” map so that large towns/cities in places like ireland or other places with less users would show up?…

  12. Teepet says:

    On hygiene: “it stands to reason people in hot and/or humid states must shower more regularly.” It’s definitly true. Back home in Oregon I would shower only a couple/few times a week with out a problem, and I always wondered why people showered so much. Now that I live in Texas (it’s been a month now) I’ve only skipped one or two days and somedays I take more than one. It’s hot here @___@

  13. Mike says:

    I suspect the outcome would’ve been a bit different if the flag-burning question had been asked like this: “Should people who burn your nation’s flag be treated as criminals, leading to their taking up valuable space in jails & prisons, clogging the courts with endless appeals, and filing bankruptcy & going uninsured when they can’t pay their fines, all ultimately at the expense of ordinary taxpayers like you?”

  14. Michael says:

    I think it would be more interesting to see not only the geographic data but broken down by gender as well.

  15. Asidian says:

    Hey! Just wanted to ask the folks running the blog a question. The text says that Lithuania is very interested in consent play, but on the map the country is mark -very- bright red. Was the text mistaken, or was the country mis-marked? Just curious. Thanks!

  16. Don says:

    Newbie here but my first ‘online date’ was 1974. Like the graphs just have question about enemies? Is there a faq or link to explain criteria? I am a in my head number cruncher and never ran into ‘enemies’ in college computer lab. But most people do not irritate the bear in charge.

  17. mrmr001 says:

    Would your rerun the “would you date someone just for sex question”; however, use my profile and run it so say “would you date this individual just for sex” — plot the results and then send it to me for my personal review?

    I would really appreciate it.

    P.S. additional questions I would like you to plot for me:

    Would you be interested in seriously dating this person — and swear not to be a source of constant grief?

    Do you promise to love this man beyond all reason?
    Would you be interested in setting a new benchmark in treating a man well with this person.

    Please note that I would only be interested in responses from women.

    Thanks again for your kind consideration

  18. Nikki says:

    I think it’s sort of funny that the states with a higher average of self confidence also seem to have a higher average of good hygiene.

  19. Ben says:

    Thanks fellas. I’ve just decided Im moving to Nevada!
    Not everything is exactly “right up my alley” but I think this battery of online surveys is good enough to base big decisions on. :)
    Thumbs up!

  20. sam says:

    this website is fantastic!

  21. dorklord07 says:

    HOLY DEAR SWEET JESUS.

    Every sociologist in the nation just had a simultaneous orgasm and doesn’t know why. This, this right here, this is the sociological holy grail. This is the most beautiful, beautiful set of data points I have ever seen.

    Sociology of sex and gender is one of the hardest fields to collect data in, especially large, reliable amounts of it. Compared to all the other methods for data collection currently in use, OKC’s system is arguably more reliable and, as you pointed out, definitely more prolific.

    Ignore A-listing. You know how you guys should support OKC? Sell data. I would kill three of my best friends for this data. Three of my best friends would let me kill them for this data. That sociology grad student farther up? He had the right idea.

    The Kinsey Reports in the 40′s and 50′s only involved <10,000 participants (if memory serves… I don't want to go digging for my copies). Just the pure number of responses you folks have hear… it's ridiculous.

    Expect to receive several requests for data once several of the people here (myself included) write up proposals.

    Just… Damn. Damn.

  22. Max says:

    I was very excited to see the “Should Flag Burning be Legal” graph because it was by Longitude and Latitude !
    MUCH MUCH MUCH MORE FASCINATING !

    After all, I don’t move to a state, I move to a city or a small town somewhere …

    AND I also saw the chart of Europe … EXcellent !

    Can we do the same Long/Lat for the whole planet?

    And if we can do that … can I do it for *my* match percentages ???

    I want to use OKC to help in choosing a non-US city to move to so I can get basic Health Care and start my next small business without the inordinate fear of early and painful death that I see awaits me with the current Health Care Mess.
    I’d also love to post a link to any such analysis for my Face Book group that is created to discuss just that: If we don’t fix the health care mess, lets just move!
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=126257711746&ref=nf
    There’s a WHOLE PLANET OUT THERE WITH BROADBAND AND SHIPPING! We can start our dreams ANYwhere !

  23. Lexi says:

    Can I come work for you guys?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Interesting research there…
    I tried subscribing to your RSS feed, and here’s what FireFox told me.

    XML Parsing Error: XML or text declaration not at start of entity
    Location: http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/feed/
    Line Number 10, Column 1:
    ^

    My browser line is: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.0.14) Gecko/2009090216 Ubuntu/8.04 (hardy) Firefox/3.0.4,
    Looking at the index,html served up by your RSS URL, the browser is right — your XML starts with 10 blank lines.

    FYI, WordPress is riddled with security problems… make sure to keep yours up-to-date.

  25. Gender Equality says:

    I think the world is becoming very androgynous. Please create a graph for the following question:

    For Ladies ONLY: Are you attracted to straight feminine men?

    a) Definitely Yes!
    b) Definitely No!
    c) Neutral

    This question will greatly help me determine how relevant my lifestyle is to the majority of the population. This is a very important question to determine changes in behavior for the last 200 years. I would like the results once a full year has gone by and at least 80% of okcupid users have answered this question.

  26. Mental Health says:

    Very interesting blog. Freakonomics applied to mate selection! One small quip, schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder. One symptom of schizophrenia is hearing voices, but I don’t think that is what you meant.

  27. David Smith says:

    Absolutely beautiful. This is the sort of treatment that information needs to make people comprehend the value of statistics.
    Ironically, this is completely independent of the value of the analysis that you also provide here. You have tackled some of the stickiest topics imaginable, with candor, humor, and tact.
    Thank you for sharing.

  28. Mrbladecrash says:

    This is awesome. On a recent trip out west to Portland, Oregon. I was quickly informed that Portland is a very homeless friendly city. There are more homeless shelters and missions than any other city in the country. You could actually live rather comfortable on the streets in Portland, all things considering. Internet access is a given, being such a young populated city. So i could imagine that this is why the rate of bath taking is so low.

  29. Labelwhore says:

    Wait…why would you NOT shower everyday? Am I missing something regarding “basic” hygiene?

  30. Jonathan David Goins says:

    Rather interesting data set wouldn’t you say

  31. Analunlaway says:

    Hi,
    Just new to here, just want to say hellow to every one.

  32. rapehun says:

    hm, interesting statistic )) many woman have rape fantasies isn’t it? ))

  33. Constantine says:

    What about Canada? It’d be interesting to know what the provinces think about these questions.

  34. Michael Roberts says:

    I love, love, love these – but as I’m red/green colorblind, I’m really having serious troubles interpreting the geographic queries, which is a shame because they rock (the red is darker, but I lose all distinction between all the yellows and greens, so I can see “no” really well but “yes” is getting lost). Could I ask you to choose better colors? Red and blue (despite their political overtones) work a lot better for most colorblind people. And certainly for me.

  35. Iamthejackpot says:

    Wow, Chris, you have an amazing job!

    I’d love to get paid to do visualization of dating/psychographic trends – let me know if you’re ever looking for a replacement ;)

  36. dietcoupon says:

    regarding new mexico, it might be because of elevation and water scarcity. At least in Santa Fe, they take every measure possible to get people to reduce water consumption. This may be what’s reflected in the curious bathing stats.

  37. Giles Bowkett says:

    I used to live in New Mexico. I don’t have any specific theory about the showering thing but it didn’t surprise me at all. I showered much less when I lived there. There’s a lot of rural mountain areas with minimal infrastructure that might lack sufficient plumbing for daily showering. From a more skeptical point of view, there’s also a culture of low expectations and minimal ambition in that state. I think NM also leads the nation in number of state and county judges arrested or killed while driving drunk.

  38. misanthropope says:

    a million answers may get you a small standard error, but it doesn’t get you “statistical validity”. you have the same serious selection bias you would if you had ten respondents. in fact you have aggravated the problem by “evolving” a set of questions that elicit strong emotional reaction.

  39. j10 says:

    It is interesting that the Southern states of the US do not live up to their reputations.

  40. Rick says:

    Could you make the data available to the public? I’d love to download it and play with it. Anonymized, of course. But maybe you could give us the questions in one table, info about the individual (anonymized) in another, answers in another? I guess we couldn’t get the photos, the way you did for the photo analysis, but we could still do interesting things with the data. Like, correlate success with answers (i.e., how successful are other people who answered like I did?).

    TIA

  41. Chris says:

    These plots are not Tufte-compliant!

  42. Christian says:

    Very true. However, we’ve improved our information presentation as the blog has matured.

  43. David says:

    Can you try correlating the “would you date someone just for the sex” question to ratio of single males to single females in census data for the states? Knowing that California has a high male/female ratio, and New York the opposite, it might be relevant.

  44. Jim says:

    I would love to see an analysis of the polyamorous and Poly friendly population of OK Cupid. I would also like to see more questions geared toward this population.

  45. Cosma says:

    My friends and I have been recently toying with the idea that romance still exists back east and that out west it’s nothing but sex . . . and now we have something akin to proof!

  46. Don says:

    A huge problem is the respondents are self selected. So as well as answering yes or no on dating just for sex or rape fantasy, they are people who choose to answer such a question instead of skipping it.

  47. LP says:

    Knowing that you guys have a maths background, I am amazed to read that you believe that the number of samples alone guarantee statistical validity. You cannot claim “unique insights into the American mindset” when the sample you have is “people who are part of an online dating website”. Gallup pool is able to get close to real results by choosing a balanced random sample of the American population, something you do not have and will never have. Even more popular websites such as facebook would not be able to make such a big claim.
    Besides that I enjoy reading your posts.

  48. J says:

    Cool. I got to add a website address. Very nice.

    Anyway, I believe that the shower thing is heat-based. I lived in a cold mountain town and most of the kids around there took a shower once every three days, especially in the winter. When I moved to a warmer, more humid area, everyone showered once or twice a day, and I followed suit. Sweat and all that.

  49. Indo says:

    Did you do anything to make sure that your sample was representative of the overall population?

  50. Mikko Kemppe - Dating Coach says:

    I would like to have more of the data about how your race affects your messaging broken down. For example, whether the majority of white females that preferred only white males are from white suburban cities and whether those who grew up in more diverse populations have more eclectic tastes in the opposite sex, whether there were differences between ones educational level, religious beliefs, political affiliation, etc.

    You guys are doing some AWESOME work!!! I can’t wait to read more of your posts!!!