I recently stumbled across this headline from Stanford News: “Meeting online has become the most popular way U.S. couples connect, Stanford sociologist finds.” Would the average reader assume this means that more than 50% of couples meet online?
This is not what the headline or the story says. More details from the story:
Rosenfeld, a lead author on the research and a professor of sociology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, drew on a nationally representative 2017 survey of American adults and found that about 39 percent of heterosexual couples reported meeting their partner online, compared to 22 percent in 2009.
It appears 39% of couples meet online. According to the summary of the paper, the others ways couples meet are:
Traditional ways of meeting partners (through family, in church, in the neighborhood) have all been declining since World War II.
The 39% figure meets the definition of both the mode and a plurality, respectively (both definitions from Google):
the value that occurs most frequently in a given set of data.
the number of votes cast for a candidate who receives more than any other but does not receive an absolute majority.
Still, I suspect there might be some confusion. Online dating brings more Americans together than any other method but it is only responsible for a little less than forty percent of couples.