Is Online Dating Causing The Death Of The ‘Mixed-Attractiveness’ Couple?

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Modern online dating algorithms that pair up users based on attractiveness could be causing the decline of “mixed-attractiveness” couples, a new theory argues.

In an article on Priceonomics, Alex Mayyasi looks at the findings of various studies that have sought to prove the theory of “assortative mating” – where individuals date and marry people who are like them in terms of social class, education, race, personality and attractiveness.

The article looks at this hypothesis in relation to dating apps like Tinder, that use matching systems focused on desirability to generate matches for their users.

Referencing Tinder’s internal attractiveness ranking system, Mayyasi explains how online services could be the cause of the decrease in number of mixed-attractiveness couples we see today, given that individuals are now matched based on their own level of datability.

Interestingly, Mayyasi also refers to a study by the University of Texas at Austin, which investigated how time affects how attracted people are to one another.

After observing 167 couples, the researchers found that people who had known their partner before they started dating would break the rule of assortative mating, generating more couples of mixed-attractiveness.

Speaking about these findings, Mayyasi said: “Do acquaintances overlook physical appearance because they know each other’s personality and unique attributes?

“Is dating less of a “competitive market” when it’s among friends rather than at a bar or a house party?”

The piece seeks to further investigate this point, detailing the insights of a study that saw researchers ask students in small classes to rate the desirability of their classmates at the beginning of a semester.

After finding that most students generally agreed on who was hot and who was not, they asked them again three months later, finding that their opinions of their classmates had drastically changed as they got to know one another.

Additionally, Mayyasi looks at why it is becoming increasingly rare for heterosexual individuals to marry people they knew before they started dating, regardless of whether they met online or offline.

It reveals how meeting through dating apps or at a bar is now replacing the more traditional ways of meeting someone, such as at school, church or work.

According to Mayyasi, this type of dating is making the market a “more brutal and competitive process”, due to the high importance now placed on attractiveness.

Read the full article here.