This month, 3557 Boston College students signed up for the Marriage Pact to meet their one true match - hopefully. Marriage Pact, a research-based survey created by Liam McGregor and Sophia Sterling-Angus, is intended to find participants a match on campus based on aligned personalities and values. Introduced to Boston College last year, the questionnaire took the campus by storm due to mass amusement, skepticism, and hope for potential love.
The Marriage Pact was not originally created for BC students, however. In 2017, a couple taking an Economics class at Stanford University decided to create an algorithm for their final project that would match people with a compatible partner. The couple devised the program as a decent backup option for anyone trying to find their lifelong partner. Responses are always confidential and only used for the purpose of the algorithm.
Questions on the Marriage Pact range from a variety of topics: family preferences, political ideology, and religious values, to name a few. You can even mark some opinions as “non-negotiables.” Then, after the survey closes, the algorithm sorts through and compares your answers with other students on campus who filled out the survey. From this, you’re then paired with a member of the community that has the most similar response to yours. Once all of the pairings have been made, emails are sent out with the name of your match along with a percentage of how accurate of a match you were. It is up to the user at that point whether they would like to reach out to their match or not.
The effectiveness of this process, of course, is still unclear as it has only been active for 6 years. According to the Marriage Pact site, over 100,000 matches have been made and one marriage has resulted from the algorithm. This leaves a 3-4% overall success rate, which compared to other forms of online dating like Tinder, with a 1-2 % success rate, is more effective overall.
At Boston College, the matches have been going for only two years, but there have already been obvious trends. One major problem found on campus was the disparity between female and male participants of the survey. Last year, there were 600 straight women left without a match. To remedy this, many students pushed throughout campus that all sexes should register so that everyone would receive a match. Additionally, people would now receive friend matches if this issue came up again. As expected, some women received these friendship matches this year, catching many off guard. To make matters worse, students also received matches with very poor compatibility rates. According to a female freshman, some received matches with below a 50% compatibility.
So, can you find the Romeo to your Juliet with a Buzzfeed article? No, not really. But that’s not the point of the Marriage Pact. The creators of the Marriage Pact made it clear: the results aren’t going to give you the love of your life. You will not get your “happily ever after” that easily. However, the algorithm provides you with something else: a Plan B. Regardless of where you are romantically in life, there is always your Marriage Pact match. He may be that slightly intolerable kid in your history class, but he’s still an option. At least that’s what the data says.