Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) probably has more information about our personal lives than anyone outside the NSA, but most of it is used to bring in ad dollars. But if personally identifying information is removed (not nearly as straightforward as it might seem), the wealth of data could be put to good use in the social sciences. One recent example is a study showing that 28 percent of people on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) married someone who went to their college, reports Justin Lafferty for Inside Facebook. Another 15 percent of married couples on the social networking site went to the same high school as well.
There’s not much surprise about which colleges were the most successful at marrying off their students. Of the top 25, at least 15 are religious colleges and another three are affiliated with the military. But there are also a surprising number of tech schools on the list, including highly ranked Harvey Mudd.
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Team looked into connection between religion and marriage
One of the researchers, Sofus Macskassy, explained how the team looked into the connection between religiosity and getting married with a college sweetheart. “We took the top 100 religious designations specified by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) users in their profiles, and labeled some of them as religious, e.g. (Christian, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim – Sunni, LDS,…), and others as non-religious (Atheist, Agnostic, None)… we observed a weak-to-moderate correlation (? = 0.40) between the ratio of religious to non, and the likelihood that a woman attended the same college as her spouse.”
People are more likely to marry someone they met in college
Learning that people are likely to marry someone they meet in college, and that religious people are more likely to do so (which roughly translates to getting married earlier) isn’t very surprising. Some religious schools openly encourage students to look for a partner before going out into the world. But it raises the prospect of using Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to ask and answer even more interesting questions about broad social trends.
Really, there’s not much difference between studies like this one and what market demographers are doing; it’s just a question of whether you are looking for correlations with a specific type of purchase or something socially significant. It will be interesting to see if Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) opens their database to more controversial social research projects.