Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do you really know what you want in a partner?

Date:
November 22, 2011
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Once you meet a potential dating partner, one's ideals are likely to fall by the wayside, according to new research. People liked potential partners that matched their ideals more than those that mismatched their ideals when examining written descriptions of potential partners, but those same ideals didn't matter once they met in person, according to new research.

So you're flocking to online dating sites with a wish list of ideal traits that you desire in a mate. Not so fast!

Related Articles


Once you actually meet a potential dating partner, those ideals are likely to fall by the wayside, according to new research from Northwestern University and Texas A&M University.

People liked potential partners that matched their ideals more than those that mismatched their ideals when they examined written descriptions of potential partners, but those same ideals didn't matter once they actually met in person, according to a new study by psychologists Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel and Alice H. Eagly.

"People have ideas about the abstract qualities they're looking for in a romantic partner," said Eastwick, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M University and lead author of the study. "But once you actually meet somebody face to face, those ideal preferences for traits tend to be quite flexible."

Say you prefer a partner who, online or on paper, fits the bill of being persistent. "After meeting in person, you might feel that, yeah, that person is persistent, but he can't compromise on anything. It's not the determined and diligent kind of persistent that you initially had in mind," Eastwick said.

The idea is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, said Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University and co-author of the study.

"People are not simply the average of their traits," he said. "Knowing that somebody is persistent, ambitious and sexy does not tell you what that person is actually like. It doesn't make sense for us to search for partners that way."

"Thinking about this or that feature of a person apart from taking the whole person into account doesn't predict actual attraction," Eagly said. "While some online dating sites have video features that provide some context, generally people are matched on their answers to specific questions that do not capture the whole person."

Scores from answers to questions such as "How much money do you earn?" or "Are you extroverted?" provide two-dimensional facts rather than three-dimensional humanness, Finkel said.

For those seeking prospective partners, don't be surprised if you end up ignoring your preconceived notions about what would make an ideal mate.

"Based on those ideals, you might end up liking a person upon meeting face to face, or you might have the opposite reaction," Finkel said. As Eastwick notes, it is not uncommon for someone to say, 'If you had tried to set me up with this guy, I would never have gone out with him, but I'm so glad I did!'"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Hilary Hurd Anyaso. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel, Alice H. Eagly. When and why do ideal partner preferences affect the process of initiating and maintaining romantic relationships? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011; 101 (5): 1012 DOI: 10.1037/a0024062

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Do you really know what you want in a partner?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114111822.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2011, November 22). Do you really know what you want in a partner?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114111822.htm
Northwestern University. "Do you really know what you want in a partner?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114111822.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