Online dating mate selection

Research has also revealed gender differences in both preference and messaging behavior on online dating sites.

In particular, women and men differ in the relative importance they assign to various attributes of potential partners.

Hitsch and colleagues found that similarity was strongly preferred in a variety of factors, including age, education, height, religion, political views, and smoking. Interestingly, women have a more pronounced same-race preference, and this preference is not always revealed in their stated preferences (Hitsch, et al., 2009).

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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.

A 2008 study in which participants rated actual online profiles confirmed this, but also explored the criteria that made certain photos attractive (Fiore et al., 2008).

Men were considered more attractive when they looked genuine, extraverted, and feminine, but not overly warm or kind.

What I Like About Me Research has also shown that although the old adage “opposites attract” seems to ring true, it may actually be a false note — we are more likely to seek out a mate similar to ourselves and then grow even more like each other as the relationship continues.

This idea is supported by online dating research (Fiore & Donath, 2005; Hitsch, et al., 2009).

Some theorize that online daters may be wearing rose colored glasses when looking at potential dates — filling in the information gaps with positive qualities in a potential partner (Gibbs et al., 2006).

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.

While this has led to dates, relationships and marriages around the globe, it has also been a boon for enterprising researchers — providing huge datasets chronicling real world behavior.

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