How humans cognitively manage an abundance of mate options

How humans cognitively manage an abundance of mate options

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Ever feel like you’d find “the one” if only you had more options? Well, heed this: When there’s more fish in the sea, you choose a less compatible mate!

In this study, volunteers attended either small or large speed dating events, and reported whether or not they’d go on a date with each candidate they met.

At the small speed-dating events (15-23 partners), participants chose dates based on meaningful traits, like career and education, which are important for long-term compatibility. But those at the large speed-dating events (24-31 partners) were much more superficial. They chose dates based on trivial, quick-to-assess characteristics, like height and weight.

Why? When we have too many choices, our brains get overwhelmed, so we’re less able to make nuanced decisions, and our snap ‘hot-or-not’ judgments win out. To really find the one, cast your line in a smaller pool. 

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