BRISBANE — Dating apps are an extremely popular way to socialize and pick up others these days, but recent research suggests they might actually lead people to lower their standards as well.
According to researchers at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, singles tend to have a clear idea as to what’s on their dating wish lists, but are actually more likely to go out with people they met online who don’t actually meet those requirements.
Behavioral economists Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler were behind the research published as “Preference vs Choice in Online Dating” in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking. They watched the behavior of nearly 42,000 people between the ages of 18 and 80 who were using an Australian dating site called “RSVP” from Jan. 2016 through April 2016. About 78 percent of the participants were men.
Whyte explained the intentions of the study.
“We looked at whether or not people actually contact people who match what they say is their ideal partner in their profile, and our findings show they don’t,” he says in a university release. “Stating a preference for what you are looking for appears to have little to no bearing on the characteristics of people you actually contact.”
Participants’ “wish lists” were comprised of seven categories for an ideal mate: hair color, eye color, body type, education level, personality type, political view, and religious affiliation. The authors determined that instead of searching until they found someone who met their dating wish list criteria, participants were likely to communicate with people who had only some of those characteristics.
In fact, the study showed that more than 65 percent of the contacts the participants made with potential dates on the site had one or less category that matched their wish list. About one in three contacts had zero matching attributes.
“Disclosure of ‘ideal’ partner preferences is a widely offered and commonly-used option for people creating a profile on online dating websites, but whether it’s effective or useful in helping people find that special someone is unclear,” says Whyte. “This study provides quite unique findings in that people may state a preference for an ideal partner but they are more than happy to initiate contact with potential love interests that bear no resemblance whatsoever to that ‘Mr or Mrs Perfect’ they initially think they prefer over all others.”
In addition to their main findings, the authors also noted that men tended to be more open-minded than female in contacting potential mates with fewer matches — except for men in their 60s or older, who were more selective.
The study is limited in the sense though, that it’s hard to say how many people hold out for their perfect person when socializing in real life as opposed to online.