We take the best academic papers and summarize them in plain English so you can improve your idating site, and help your users make better connections.
Title: Knowing your own mate value: Sex-specific personality effects on the accuracy of expected mate choices
Published In: Psychological Science, in press
Authors: Mitja D. Back, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz; Lars Penke, University of Edinburgh; Stefan C. Schmukle, Westfällische Wilhelm-University Münster; and Jens B. Asendorph, Humboldt University Berlin
Full Report: http://www.larspenke.eu/pdfs/Back_Penke_Schmuckle_Asendorpf_2011_-_Mate_value_accuracy.pdf
Summary, In Plain English:
Singles who understand their value on the mate market find the most matches. The researchers used speed dating events to test how well men and women understood their own value. Men and women typically show traits specific to their gender that make them more marketable. The researchers theorized that singles estimate their value better if they show high levels of the trait that the other gender values.
Men who flirt more, are more active in soliciting women’s attention, and are more confident in their effect would be high in sociosexuality. Sociosexuality is defined as “an intrinsic tendency to desire uncommitted sexuality.” Agreeable women who are more approachable and less likely to reject advances are more appealing. Agreeableness in women is “a tendency to behave in a warm, trustworthy, and cooperative manner.” Men and women who naturally display these valued behaviors should have find mate finding easier and more successful. Those not showing those traits would find the process more stressful and less successful. Even trying to behave more aggressively or agreeably does not work well. It is tiring and unnatural.
Using speed dating events, singles were tested before for sociosexuality and agreeableness. After each speed dating introduction, participants indicated if they wanted to see this person again, and whether they thought that the other would want to see them. The actual numbers of requests for meetings were compared to what each single expected to determine their accuracy.
As suspected, singles who exhibited high levels of behaviors expected (sociosexuality in men, agreeableness in women) were better able to estimate their own value in the speed dating event. “Sociosexually unrestricted men were more accurate than restricted me and agreeable women were more accurate than disagreeable women.”
“Knowing one’s own value” in the mate-finding market is extremely important to eventual success. This study has limited value, however, since it only looks at sociosexuality and agreeableness. “Value” has many factors: attractiveness/looks, for instance. Age, health, finances, education, and many other factors figure in.
Men and women often overvalue what they have to offer. On Internet dating sites, contacting the top candidates and getting no responses is highly frustrating and encourages dropping out of the market entirely.
Being realistic about who might be more likely to accept what an individual has to offer makes success more likely. As well, both men and women can improve their value. Before posting on a dating site, they can “get ready to date.” Posting a quality profile and photo is essential to good results. Then, evaluating their successes and failures and making appropriate adjustments should continue to improve the responses singles get.
Kathryn Lord: Based on this information, you should:
- Educate your customers on how to figure out their value on your dating site. Inform them that while all profiles are real people (if indeed they are – they should be), only a small percentage will be interested in them in particular. Most of us are only attracted to a tiny portion of the total number of singles available. I use this illustration with my clients:
- Inform users on how likely their first emails are to be answered. Encourage both men and women to take active roles in contacting others. If they are not having the results they hope for, suggest ways to improve by widening their search parameters until they get a good response rate.
- Help your users improve their value. Educate them about the importance of preparing to date: getting their bodies in the best shape possible, sprucing up grooming, getting their home and finances in good order, for instance. Provide guidance on their on-site presentations, how to write an appealing profile, the best photos, etc.
- Stress the importance of honesty and congruence. Their presentation online should accurately match reality. Trying to present themselves as something they are not will ultimately backfire.