Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Quantity may determine quality when choosing romantic partners

Date:
April 15, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
At bigger speed-dating events, with 24 or more dates, both male and female choosers were more likely to decide based on attributes that could be judged quickly, such as their dates' height, and whether they were underweight, normal weight or overweight.

The context in which humans meet potential mates has a hidden influence on who they decide to pursue. In particular, when people have a large number of potential dating partners to select among, they respond by paying attention to different types of characteristics -- discarding attributes such as education, smoking status, and occupation in favor of physical characteristics such as height and weight.

Related Articles


A number of studies in recent years have looked at what happens to humans when faced with extensive choice -- too many kinds of chocolate, or too many detergents to choose from at the grocery store. Under such circumstances, consumer psychologists believe that the brain may become "overwhelmed," potentially leading to poorer quality choice or choice deferral. Psychological scientist Alison Lenton, of the University of Edinburgh, and economist Marco Francesconi, of the University of Essex, wanted to know if the same was true of mate choice, given that humans have been practicing this particular choice for millennia. "Is having too many mate options really like having too many jams?" they ask.

The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

To find out how people respond to relatively limited versus extensive mate choice, Lenton and Francesconi analyzed data from 84 speed dating events, which is where people meet with a series of potential dates for three minutes each. Afterward, the men and women report their choices (a "yes" or "no" for each person). It should surprise no one that choosers generally preferred people who were taller, younger, and well-educated. Women also preferred partners who weren't too skinny, and men preferred women who weren't overweight. Beyond that, though, the attributes that speed daters paid attention to depended on how many opposite-sex speed daters attended the event.

At bigger speed dating events, with 24 or more dates, both male and female choosers were more likely to decide based on attributes that could be judged quickly, such as their dates' height, and whether they were underweight, normal weight, or overweight. At smaller events, choosers were more likely to make decisions based on attributes that take longer to identify and evaluate, such as their dates' level of education, their type of job, and whether or not the person smokes.

"Obviously, I think we look for different attributes in partners than what we look for in a chocolate, a jam or a 401(k) plan," says Lenton. "But one of the points we're trying to make in this article is it's the same brain we're carrying around. There are constraints on what our brains can do -- they're quite powerful, but they can't pay attention to everything at once." And if the brain is faced with abundant choice, even about who to go out with, it may make decisions based on what it can evaluate most quickly. As a result, this previously invisible aspect of the choice environment has the potential to determine one's romantic fate.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alison P. Lenton, Marco Francesconi. How Humans Cognitively Manage an Abundance of Mate Options. Psychological Science, 2010; 21: 528-533 DOI: 10.1177/0956797610364958

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Quantity may determine quality when choosing romantic partners." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415114325.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, April 15). Quantity may determine quality when choosing romantic partners. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415114325.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Quantity may determine quality when choosing romantic partners." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415114325.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins