Say it with roses? How economists can help you game Valentine’s Day and bring other dismal science to your romance

For some years, designers of dating sites have been experimenting with ways of allowing daters to signal their earnest intentions. Plentyoffish.com, for example, sells Serious Member badges, and Cupid.com allows members to attach a rose icon to a limited number of messages to potential dates.

Now, an Asian dating company has teamed up with some market design specialists to analyze whether these “virtual roses” are an effective way of indicating genuine interest. In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, “Propose With a Rose? Signaling in Internet Dating Markets,” economists Soohyung Lee and Muriel Niederle ran an online event through a Korean dating site in which participants were given a couple of “virtual roses” to signal their interest in someone special.

It turns out nothing says I’m interested like a rose: A digital flower increased the chances that an offer of a date was accepted by about 20 percent.

There is more in Ray Fisman’s Slate column. Interesting throughout.

If optimizing your martial inputs and outputs gives you the warm fuzzies, you will also like this NY Times profile of econ power couple Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers.