It’s a myth that’s been around for nearly a century: Most of us are destined to meet our spouses during those magical/fraught years that make up college. But is there any truth to it? Facebook’s crack team of data scientists have mined our collective Facebook data to find out—and some of their results are pretty surprising.
In a post entitled From Classmates to Soulmates today, Facebook’s Data Science Team explains their methodology: They looked at schools that had at least 1,000 married alumni, and couples who attended the same school within four years of each other. Obviously, they only looked at subjects who reported marital status and graduation school—and their age limit was 25.
Their key findings? That you’re much more likely to meet your husband or wife in college—only 15 percent of couples met in high school, while 28 percent met during college. Geographically speaking, couples who met in high school are far more likely to hail from rural areas, which makes a good deal of sense: In cities, high schoolers are far more likely to know kids from other schools and social hubs.
What about college-made couples? Unsurprisingly, the data is massively skewed towards religious schools. For example, 60 percent of women who attended Brigham Young, the notoriously strict Mormon school in Provo, Utah, met their spouse at school. Those numbers got even higher as the ratio of men to women grew: At Indiana’s Rose–Hulman Institute of Technology, where the ratio of men to women is the highest among co-ed schools nationally, more than 70 percent of women went to college with their husbands. There were similar trends in military schools. And a second cool map, above, revealed inter-school networks that tend to produce more matches on average.
One fun little glimpse at the challenges of turning Facebook data into science comes from the post’s author, Sofus Attila Macskássy, who noted that they had to filter out plenty of “joke” answers from the data set—for example, those who listed their religion as “pastafarian" (though that probably counts as single).
Some are sure to be creeped out by the fact that Facebook is going through profiles at such a granular level—but in this particular case, it's a pretty fun little study. Maybe they'll look at divorce rates next? [Facebook, thanks Kyle Wagner!]