Having More Dating Choices Makes Us Shallower

The more potential dating partners we are choosing from, the more likely we are to choose someone based on looks.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Is it better to have more choices when it comes to love?

Sheena Iyengar:  What's interesting is that the way we go about finding our marriage partners today is quite different from the way it used to be in this culture.  When you look at…  I’ve done a number of studies with speed dating and Match.com and what's interesting is that you know we still walk into a speed dating event, you know, thinking about what it is we’re looking for in a mate and so you ask people, like women will say "I’m looking for somebody who is really kind and sincere and smart and funny." And guys will say looks matter, but they’ll also say things like "Well, she should be smart and kind." And you know those are... so the typical responses and if you give them just a few options, like five or six, then they will rate them on the very characteristics that they said were really important to them.  You know if they said kindness or funniness was really most important to them then they will be more likely to say yes to the person that they thought was kind and funny.  Now if you expand their choice set–say you give them 20 different speed dates–everything goes out the window.  Everybody starts choosing in accordance with looks because that becomes the easiest criteria by which to weed out all the options and decide "So who am I going to say yes to?"