A Psychologist's Guide to Online Dating

Posted on December 20, 2013

Edward Royzman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asks me to list four qualities on a piece of paper: physical attractiveness, income, kindness, and fidelity. Then he gives me 200 virtual “date points” that I’m to distribute among the four traits. The more I allocate to each attribute, the more highly I supposedly value that quality in a mate.

This experiment, which Royzman sometimes runs with his college classes, is meant to inject scarcity into hypothetical dating decisions in order to force people to prioritize.

Royzman said that among his students (not in a clinical condition), men tend to spend much more on physical attractiveness, and women spend more on social attractiveness traits like kindness and intelligence.

This trait game, along with Royzman’s review of the literature on attraction, hints at some of the endless quirks of the online dating marketplace. You might like someone online, but they put 100 on income, and unfortunately you’re about a 10.

Men and women make mating decisions very differently, he speculates. Men tend to act like single-issue voters: If a prospect is not attractive enough, he or she usually doesn’t qualify for a first date, period.

For women, however, "It's a more complex choice,” he said. “What tends to matter for females is that the overall package is good," meaning that women might accept a less-attractive mate if he was outstanding in some other way. "Online, this might result in males restricting their potential mates.”

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Category(s):Relationships & Marriage

Source material from The Alantic


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