Journal and Courier Article- Dating choices may have evolved from mate choice copying

Dating choices may have evolved from mate choice copying

Journal & Courier - Lafayette, Ind.

Author:

TAYA FLORES

Date:

Jul 5, 2010

Start Page:

n/a

Section:

LIFE

Text Word Count:

683

Document Text

Patrick Hagmaier of West Lafayette is not ashamed to admit that physical attractiveness is what typically draws him to a woman, especially if she's a little shorter, with long brown hair and brown eyes.

Also, Hagmaier tends to make his decision sans the influence of friends, family and strangers. Even if a woman is garnering the interest of other males, it doesn't make her more attractive to him.

"At that point, I shut down and then decide to move on," the 21-year-old said. "If she is generating a lot of interest from men, she's probably doing it on purpose and I'm not interested in that."

However, an Indiana University study suggests that opinions of strangers do influence our choice in potential flings or relationship partners.

"There's an assumption that people make independent decisions when choosing their mates, but new research is showing that a person's social environment, such as friends and family, plays a role, including the opinions of strangers," said Skyler Place, lead author of the study.

The study, which was published online in April in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, found that the phenomenon of "mate choice copying," occurs among humans.

Place, who is also a psychological and brain science researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington, said mate choice copying is where an individual shows an increased interest in a potential mate if another same-sex individual also shows interest. He said fish and birds that live in social groups also exhibit this behavior.

"We think it's an adaptive evolutionary strategy to be as efficient as possible when searching for a mate," he said. "It's a shortcut to take advantage of the time that other people have already invested in talking to other suitors."

Other people's interest in a person might signal that this person might be a suitable mate for you. On the contrary, other people's disinterest might be a signal that this person might not be a suitable mate, Place said.

For the study, 40 men and 40 women viewed video of eight speed-dating interactions. The participants were asked to predict whether they perceived the dates to be successful or not. Then the researchers analyzed how the participants own desires to become romantically involved with the speed-daters was influenced by what they thought happened on the speed-dates.

The men's interest in the women increased significantly if the male peer in the video appeared interested in the women and if this male peer was considered as attractive or more attractive than the study participant himself.

Place said all opinions are not equal in a social environment. Some opinions, such as those from attractive people, might have more influence on dating preferences.

Similar results happened among female study participants. If the women in the videos appeared interested, this increased the interest of the participants. However, unlike the male study participants, if the women in the video appeared disinterested, their interest in the men decreased.

Having difficulty navigating the current in the dating pool?

Buck Black, licensed clinical social worker and couple's therapist with Heartland Clinic in Lafayette, shares his insight on what to look for when searching for that special someone.

For men, just because the woman looks healthy and beautiful doesn't mean she is going to be caring and emotionally stable. It doesn't mean she is going to be faithful either, even if you are a good provider. She might get bored and look for a man who is more exciting. So don't just look for youth and beauty in a woman -- take into account her personality traits.

Many times women opt for the bad boy because he's fun, exciting and aggressive. However, this bad boy is probably not in it for the long haul.

"That's where a woman can get herself in trouble," he said.

So for both sexes, look for variety in a person. It's hard to be attractive, exciting and a good provider or parent. If the person is only one of these things, then you'll likely get bored with him or her and a bored person is more likely to cheat.

-- Taya Flores/ tflores@jconline.com

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

Abstract (Document Summary)

"There's an assumption that people make independent decisions when choosing their mates, but new research is showing that a person's social environment, such as friends and family, plays a role, including the opinions of strangers," said Skyler Place, lead author of the study.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.