Does Debbie

Friday, April 13, 2007

A NY Times Article of Interest

How Don’t I Love Thee?
By John Tierney

Let us count the ways.
By watching speed daters and online daters, social scientists have minutely calculated what turns people off (and activates their Flaw-O-Matics, the topic of my
Findings column). They’ve consistently found different levels of pickiness in men and women.

When Robert Kurzban and Jaspon Weeden of the University of Pennsylvania
studied more than 10,000 American customers of HurryDate — a company that gathers a couple of dozen people at a time for a round robin of three-minute speed dates — the psychologists found that, on average, a woman got a “yes” from about half the men she met (meaning that the guy would like to go out with her). But a man, on average, got the thumbs-up from only a third of the women.

A study of speed daters in Germany showed that women were not only pickier than men but also more realistic about their own appeal in the dating market. Correctly divining that men put a premium on looks, the more attractive women set a higher bar for their partners than less attractive women did. But the German men set about the same bar for their partners no matter what they looked like themselves or how successful they were professionally.

These German men apparently cast their nets as wide as possible to take advantage of what the researchers call the “low mate-choice costs” — the chance to ask out a lot of women without getting any embarrassing face-to-face rejections. (Speed daters mark their choices on a scorecard and are told later which partners were interested in them.) The researchers — Peter Todd of Indiana University; Lars Penke of Humboldt University in Berlin; Alison Lenton of the University of Edinburgh, and Barbara Fasolo of the London School of Economics — conclude:

The overall pattern of results thus suggests that low mate choice costs lead men to satisfy their variety preference by indifferently choosing any woman who falls above a minimal condition threshold, while women stayed choosy and appeared to fine-tune social-comparison processes to the situation (meaning, in this context, that their mate-value sociometer mainly reflected their physical attractiveness), adjusting their mate choices accordingly.

Women have less of a “variety preference” — they’re more interested in a long-term partner — and they’re concerned with a lot more than looks. They want a partner who’s at least as educated as they are, whereas education isn’t as important to men, according to a
study of more than 20,000 online daters by Gunter Hitsch, Ali Hortacsu and Dan Ariely.
The researchers found that blonde women have a slight advantage in the online market, while red-headed men are at a moderate disdavantage. But no matter what men look like, they can help compensate by making money. By tracking the success of online daters, the researchers calculated precisely how much extra income a man had to make (relative to the average man’s income of $62,500 per year) to offset a less than ideal attribute. Some of their findings:

Suppose you’re an ordinary-looking guy whose online picture is ranked around the median in attractiveness. (In the study, the ratings of attractiveness were done by independent male and female observers hired by the researchers.) And suppose you’d like to be as successful with women as a guy whose picture is ranked in the top tenth. Then you’d need to make $143,000 more than him. If your picture is ranked in the bottom tenth, you’d need to make $186,000 more than him.

Similarly, according to the study, a 5-foot-0 guy would need to make $325,000 more than a 6-foot-0 man to be as successful in the online dating market. A 5-foot-4 man would need $229,000; a 5-foot-6 man would need $183,000; a 5-foot-10 man would need $32,000. And if that 6-foot-0 man wanted to do as well as a 6-foot-4 man, he’d need to make $43,000 more.
For women in the online study, shorter is better. A 5-foot-6 women would need to make $59,000 more than a 5-foot-0 or 5-foot-2 woman to do as well. She’d need to make $50,000 more than a 5-foot-4 woman.

Not surprisingly, both sexes care a lot about their partners’ weight — and they pay close attention to the categories used in the online profiles. As the researchers report: “Members who are ‘chiseled’ and ‘toned” receive slightly more first-contact e-mails than ‘height-weight proprotionate’ users, while ‘voluptuous/portly’ and ‘large but shapely’ members experience a sizable penalty.”

Also not surprisingly, the researchers found that online daters weren’t especially frank about their own shortcomings. Fewer than 1 percent rated themselves as having “less than average looks.” Which suggests that at least 48 percent of them turned off their Flaw-O-Matics whenever they looked in the mirror.


  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger Paige Jennifer said…

    That height/money scale lost me. But I will say this - I'm only 5'4" but nothing in the world would make up for a man who is only five feet tall.

    If I can bench press you, we aren't going to work out as a couple. Move along.


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