Online dating mate selection

In general, women really are pickier than men — listing smaller ranges in their preferences for age and ethnicity.

Women also initiate and reply to contact less than men.

In a 2005 study, Fiore and Judith Donath (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) examined messaging data from 65,000 users of a United States-based dating site.

They found that users preferred sameness on all of the categories they tested (a variety of features from child preferences to education to physical features like height).

A forthcoming study conducted by Günter Hitsch, Ali Hortaçsu (both at University of Chicago), and Dan Ariely (Duke University) confirmed existing evolutional theory, finding that in a sample of 22,000 online daters women weigh income more than physical attributes, including facial attractiveness, height and body mass index, when deciding who to contact (Hitsch et al., 2009).

Interestingly, these differences persist even when reproduction is no longer a factor.

In one study, knowing more information about a potential date generally led to liking them less, possibly because it called out inconsistencies and reduced opportunities to fill in the blanks with positive inferences.In a study that looked at online daters across the lifespan, even older men “sought physical attractiveness and offered status-related information more than women” and women continued to be the more selective gender (Sears-Roberts Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009).In a nine-month study of participants on a dating site in 20, Andrew Fiore, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues examined stated preferences and actual messaging behavior (Fiore et al., 2010).Take Your Pick For millions of years, humans have been selecting mates using the wealth of information gleaned in face-to-face interactions — not just appearance, but characteristics such as tone of voice, body language, and scent, as well as immediate feedback to their own communications. Or are words the key to someone’s heart (or at least their inbox)?Does mate selection differ when those looking are presented with an almost overwhelming number of potential partners, but limited to a few photos, statistics, and an introductory paragraph about each one? In one survey of Australian online daters, 85% said they would not contact someone without a posted photo, so physical appearance is indeed important (Fiore et al., 2008).

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