Testing sequential patterns in human mate choice using speed-dating

Abstract

Choosing appropriate mates from the sequential stream of possible partners we encounter over time is a crucial and challenging adaptive problem. But getting data on mate search is also challenging. Speed-dating provides an accelerated microcosm of such data which we can use to test models of sequential mate search. Here we use such data to assess search heuristics including fixed threshold models and mechanisms that adjust aspiration levels for mates in response to previous experiences of success or failure on the mating market. We find that initial thresholds related to own attractiveness combined with experience-based threshold adjustment can account for most of the offers made during speed-dating.


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