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Sheena S. Iyengar is the inaugural S. T. Lee Professor of Business in the Management Division of the Columbia Business School. She has earned an Innovation in the Teaching Curriculum[…]

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

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

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