It’s a small romantic world after all.
At least that’s what the number crunchers on Facebook’s data science team discovered when analyzing anonymous data of U.S. couples over the age of 21 who classify themselves as “married” and also include the names of the high schools and colleges they attended in their profiles on the social network.
According to the results, 15% of couples on Facebook attended the same high school and 28% attended the same college. Some couples went to both the same high school and college, but the study controlled for that by only counting the first school they each attended together in the results.
The results showed that couples who attended high school in rural as opposed to urban areas were more likely to marry someone from the same school. Smaller, more conservative and religious colleges tended to have a higher likelihood of married graduates than other schools. For example, the study found that more than half of Brigham Young University graduates on Facebook also had a spouse who attended the school.
As with any study, there are a few caveats to take into account when considering the results. To begin with, only people aged 25 or older at the time the data was collected were included in the study, and the couple had to attend the same school within four years of each other. People who did not list a college on their profile pages were excluded from the study.
Of course, there is no way to tell if a couple hooked up before or after they attended the same school or if the relationship began while they were enrolled.
“The count is a rough proxy for the chance of finding a spouse at the school,” wrote Facebook data scientist Sofus Attila Macskassy, who along with colleague Lada Adamic conducted the research and wrote about their findings on a Facebook page entitled, “From Classmates to Soulmates.”
The two researchers also noted that the result may be an underestimate because spouses may have listed their school affiliations differently — for example, Rutgers University vs. Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
Still, as the researchers noted, “the relative differences between schools give an impression about the chance of picking up a spouse in addition to a degree in college.”