It’s the conversation you’ve likely had over a round of beers, or when you’re crumbled in the corner of your living room nursing the wounds of your latest breakup. You make a promise to your best pal that if you wind up at the age of 35 (or 40 or 45…) and you’re still both single, you will marry one another and build a life together. This gives you permission to search far and wide, but know you — sort of — have an option if nothing else works out.
In theory, this is the concept of the Marriage Pact, a multi-year study created by two students at Stanford University. Sophia Sterling-Angus and Liam McGregor used their studies to give their fellow classmates an opportunity: figure out who on campus is your actual soulmate by taking a simple quiz. When they released it two years ago, they hoped for 100 — and were floored when they eventually had more than 4,100. To date, they’ve surveyed and matched more than 7,600 — more than half of the undergraduate population.
Considering college kiddos aren’t exactly on the fast-track to marriage, they set up the experience as a ‘backup plan’, and they purposely wanted to go in the opposite direction of the Tinders of the world. In other words: They didn’t want people to have endless options that can lead people to never make a decision and always believe there is something better out there.
As McGregor shared in an interview with Vox, “Tinder’s huge innovation was that they eliminated rejection, but they introduced massive search costs. People increase their bar because there’s this artificial belief of endless options.”
Instead, they asked questions that really got to the heart of what people value, what they think of themselves and what would matter in a long-term scenarios. Some sample questions centered around kinky sex, keeping a gun in your house and if you believed you were smarter than others. This made the whole experience less visual and more meaningful, something that few — if any — dating apps have mastered.
“There are a lot of superficial things that people prioritize in short-term relationships that kind of work against their search for ‘the one.’ As you turn that dial and look at five-month, five-year, or five-decade relationships, what matters really, really changes. If you’re spending 50 years with someone, I think you get past their height,” McGregor shared.
This year, the study will take place again at Stanford, but they’re also launching at Dartmouth, The University of Southern California and Princeton. Eventually — ya know, after the graduate — they’re hoping to explore the algorithm in very specific communities outside of academia.
It’d be tough to match every last single person on the planet — but perhaps their philosophies have staying power. After all, if a quiz could introduce you to your soulmate, wouldn’t you take it?