In your quest for true love and that elusive happily ever after, are you waiting for the “right” person to come along, or do you find yourself going for the cutest guy or girl in the room, hoping things will work out? Do you leave your options open, hoping to “trade-up” at the next opportunity, or do you invest in your relationship with an eye on the cost-benefits analysis?
For something so fundamental to our existence, mate selection remains one of humanity’s most enduring mysteries. It’s been the topic of intense psychological research for decades, spawning myriad hypotheses of why we choose whom we choose.
“Mate choice is really complicated, especially in humans,” said Dan Conroy-Beam, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UC Santa Barbara, and author of a paper in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review. “And there have been a lot of people who have proposed abstract ideas about how it might happen.”
One line of thinking, for instance, posits that we assess potential mates against an internal threshold of preferred qualities and attributes — a “minimum bar,” that they have to meet to be considered a potential partner.
“And we learn where that minimum bar is based on how other people treat us,” he said. Another model describes the dating market somewhat like the European social dances of the 18th century.
“One side approaches the other side and they get these kinds of temporary