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The Staggering Research On Choosing Mates

E. Jean CarrollE. Jean Carroll
E. Jean Carroll
5 min read
Published in Compatibility 


    E. Jean Carroll occasionally drops a line to the team with a little inspiration or interesting tidbit of research. Aren’t we a lucky bunch?! Her last token to us was a collection of the latest research on all things amour. Enjoy:

    Brilliant Matchmakers! Cogs of the Cosmos!

    Run put on headscarves, darlings, cuz the latest
    research on boffing, loathing, and selecting
    is gonna make your hair stand on end……
    particularly the research on “older women.”

    My God!!

    1. There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea: The Effects of Choice Overload and Reversibility on Online Daters’ Satisfaction With Selected Partners
      Jonathan D’Angelo & Catalina Toma
      Media Psychology, forthcoming
      Online dating is often lauded for improving the dating experience by giving singles large pools of potential partners from whom to choose. This experiment investigates how the number of choices online daters are given, and whether these choices are reversible, affects romantic outcomes. Drawing on the choice overload and decision reversibility theoretical frameworks, we show that, a week after making their selection, online daters who chose from a large set of potential partners (i.e., 24) were less satisfied with their choice than those who selected from a small set (i.e., 6), and were more likely to change their selection. While choice reversibility did not affect daters’ satisfaction, those who selected from a large pool and had the ability to reverse their choice were the least satisfied with their selected partner after one week. The results advance understanding of how media features related to choice affect interpersonal evaluations. 
    2. Nice guys finish first when presented second: Responsive daters are evaluated more positively following exposure to unresponsive daters
      Stephanie Spielmann & Geoff MacDonald
      Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2016, Pages 99-105
      Decisions about who to date are increasingly being made while viewing a large pool of dating prospects simultaneously or sequentially (e.g., online dating). The present research explores how the order in which dating prospects are evaluated affects the role in dating decisions of a variable crucial to relationship success – partner responsiveness. In Study 1, participants viewed dating profiles varying in physical attractiveness and responsiveness. Some participants viewed responsive profiles first whereas others viewed unresponsive profiles first. Results revealed that responsive targets were rated more favorably following exposure to unresponsive targets, regardless of level of attractiveness. Study 2 specifically targeted how contrast effects affect romantic evaluations of a physically unattractive, yet responsive, target. Results again revealed that unattractive, responsive targets were viewed more favorably after exposure to unresponsive dating prospects, regardless of these unresponsive prospects’ physical attractiveness. These results highlight the importance of the context in which dating decisions are made. 
    3. Accounting for Age in Marital Search Decisions
      Nuray Akın & Brennan Platt
      European Economic Review, forthcoming
      Spouse quality, measured by educational attainment, varies significantly with the age at which an individual marries, peaking in the mid-twenties then declining through the early-forties. Interestingly, this decline is much sharper for women than men, meaning women increasingly marry less educated men as they age. Moreover, quality has worsened for educated women over several decades, while it has improved for men. Using a non-stationary sequential search model, we identify and quantify the search frictions that generate these age-dependent marriage outcomes. We find that single-life utility is typically the dominant friction, though college women in the 1950 and 1970 cohorts are affected even more by deteriorating suitor quality. Regardless of educational status, individual choice (as opposed to pure luck) is pivotal in explaining marriage market outcomes earlier in life. 
    4. Men’s sociosexuality is sensitive to changes in mate availability
      Steven Arnocky, Nathan Woodruff & David Schmitt
      Personal Relationships, March 2016, Pages 172-181Abstract:
      Correlational research has linked mate availability to human sexual behavior, whereby unrestricted sociosexuality seems to be most common under conditions of female abundance. In this study, 71 heterosexual men were randomly assigned to one of two mate availability priming conditions, mate scarcity or mate abundance, and subsequently completed measures of sociosexuality as well as infidelity intentions. Results indicated that men in the mate abundance condition reported stronger sociosexual attitudes and desires, and among those currently in relationships, stronger infidelity intentions. These findings were contrasted with those from a separate sample of 66 heterosexual undergraduate women. Mate scarcity had no effects on women’s sociosexuality or infidelity intentions. Findings suggest that when mates are scarce, men will adopt a sociosexual orientation aimed at maintaining a single partner. 
    5. The effects of resource availability and relationship status on women’s preference for facial masculinity in men: An eye-tracking study
      Minna Lyons et al.
      Personality and Individual Differences, June 2016, Pages 25-28
      Previous research has demonstrated that perceived availability of environmental resources affects the mate choice of females. However, it is unclear whether women’s partnership status influences the effects of environmental circumstances on masculinity preference. Further, the role of environmental scarcity on women’s gaze patterns when evaluating male faces has not been investigated. The current study investigated how relationship status and environmental factors affected women’s gaze patterns and preference towards masculinised and feminised male faces. Twenty-two participants in a long-term romantic relationship, and 26 who were single, were primed with either a high (‘wealthy’) or low (‘scarcity’) resource availability scenario. They then completed a facial masculinity/femininity preference task while eye-gaze behaviour was measured. Women in a relationship (but not single women) had an increased preference towards masculine faces in the scarcity condition, compared to the wealthy condition; this preference was also reflected in eye gaze behaviour. In contrast, single women had longer first fixations on feminine rather than masculine faces when evaluating them as long-term partners in the wealthy condition, but no overt preference for either face type. These findings reveal the importance of taking women’s relationship status into account in investigations of the role of environmental influences on masculinity preferences.


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    Painting: Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini “Wedding” Portrait

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