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Stanford Marriage Pact releases second annual Campus Report

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Five million potential first dates.

That’s effectively what the Stanford Marriage Pact algorithm runs through to give each participant their perfect Stanford match, said co-founder Liam McGregor ’20.

The number of participants in the Marriage Pact — which asks students about a range of topics from religion and politics to sex and spontaneity — has grown each year since its advent three years ago. In total, 91.4% of the class of 2020 has sought a match at least once. The Marriage Pact has had 8,621 unique Stanford undergraduate participants across its three years of existence.

Beyond the matching algorithm, the Marriage Pact has generated aggregated data on how Stanford students think and what they value. For the second year in a row, the Marriage Pact team has released a Campus Report that highlights trends in the data. 

Lead Marriage Pact content strategist Elizabeth Gerson ’20 said students can trust the data because respondents are motivated to answer the questions honestly because they are incentivized to find their best match. The questions are also framed specifically to prevent participants from projecting an idealized version of themselves, she explained.

“We went at it with certain core values that we wanted to keep in the questionnaire based on as much psychologically reviewed information that we could get our hands on,” Gerson said, “but the questions needed to be enjoyable for people to answer as well.”

According to the Report, approximately two-thirds of students do not think it is important for their children to be raised with religion. Nearly half of students expect their children to attend Ivy League-tier schools and do not think it is important to make more money than their peers.

Ninety-three percent of students think that their spouse should be their best friend, and 77% disagree with the idea that gender roles exist for a good reason. Sixty-three percent of students want to be thought of as spontaneous.

The report also captures how the data varies, whether that’s over the years, across genders or between classes. This year’s report revealed that the number of republicans on campus has declined since 2017, and the number of socialists has increased to almost surpass that of republicans.

Graphic courtesy of Stanford Marriage Pact

The Campus Report also highlighted differences in responses between men and women. While generally, students tended to dislike the idea of going to space even if there was a chance of no return, more men claimed they would take the opportunity. Women also disagreed more strongly with the statement “I keep some ‘friends’ here at Stanford because they might be useful to me in the future.”

Graphic courtesy of Stanford Marriage Pact

This year, the Campus Report also examines different connections beyond just school year and gender. For example, the Marriage Pact team reported statistics about which majors were the “easiest,” defining “easy” as the majors with the most students willing to have sex early in a relationship or willing to engage in “kinky” sex.

“It could not have worked better in terms of word play,” Gerson said with a laugh.

Graphic courtesy of Stanford Marriage Pact

The changes observed between each year of the Marriage Pact as well as between different class years can be indicative of changes to campus culture, the national political atmosphere or students simply growing older and gaining worldly experience, said McGregor and Gerson.

The Marriage Pact has a privacy policy crafted by the founders that explains the team’s commitment to not selling the data and protecting personally identifying information. For example, majors with less than 25 participants are excluded from the aggregate data, McGregor explained. 

The goal of the Marriage Pact team is to make the product as useful as possible, leveraging all research available to not only learn about campus culture, but also to learn about what makes the best matches as well.

“The roots of the Marriage Pact are primarily academic. Especially being at Stanford, you could never do it any other way,” McGregor said.

The Marriage Pact team intends to keep refining the questionnaire, algorithm and marketing as the popularity of the project increases. The team itself will also continue growing, McGregor said.

McGregor said, “We have a couple of exciting things in the works. The Campus Report is just one dimension of it.”

Contact Danielle Echeverria at dech23 ‘at’ stanford.edu

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