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They found out they’d both grown up in Los Angeles, had attended nearby high schools, and eventually wanted to work in entertainment. “It was the excitement of getting paired with a stranger but the possibility of not getting paired with a stranger,” she mused.
“I didn’t have to filter myself at all.” Coffee turned into lunch, and the pair decided to skip their afternoon classes to hang out. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper wrote a paper on the paradox of choice — the concept that having too many options can lead to decision paralysis.
“Oh, my god, people were running down the halls trying to find their matches,” added Mc Gregor.
Next year the study will be in its third year, and Mc Gregor and Sterling-Angus tentatively plan to launch it at a few more schools including Dartmouth, Princeton, and the University of Southern California.
And while “marriage pacts” have probably long been informally invoked, they’d never been powered by an algorithm.
What started as Sterling-Angus and Mc Gregor’s minor class project quickly became a viral phenomenon on campus.
Now there was a person sitting down across from her, and she felt both excited and anxious.
It had questions like: How much should your future kids get as an allowance? Do you think you’re smarter than most other people at Stanford? Then they sent it to every undergraduate at their school. “Finding a life partner is probably not a priority right now. But years from now, you may realize that most viable boos are already hitched. When they closed the survey a few days later, they had 4,100. At around 11 pm the following Monday, they sent out the results. Resident assistants texted them saying the freshmen dorms were in chaos, and the Stanford memes Facebook page — where students share campus-specific humor — was awash in Marriage Pact content.
At that point, it’s less about finding ‘the one’ and more about finding ‘the last one left.’ Take our quiz, and find your marriage pact match here.” They hoped for 100 responses. Streiber, the English major who would go on to meet her match for coffee and discover how much they had in common, remembers filling out the survey with friends.
Amused at this “very Stanford way” of solving the school’s perpetually “odd dating culture,” she wrote a tongue-in-cheek poem about the experience: In the following weeks, Mc Gregor and Sterling-Angus began to hear more about the matches.
But it’s unclear if the project can scale beyond the bubble of elite college campuses, or if the algorithm, now operating among college students, contains the magic key to a stable marriage.
The idea was hatched during an economics class on market design and matching algorithms in fall 2017.