“We find that male behavior is very well explained by a simple model date-quality maximization. By contrast, we find a number of patterns in female choices that are inconsistent with this model.”
No wonder they call it the dismal science.
Funky abstract after the jump. (Hat tip: Splog)
We analyze mate selection behavior in an experimental ‘Speed Dating’ market. Since our data allow us to observe all acceptances and rejections of mates, rather than just matches, it provides an ideal testing ground for theories of mate selection. We begin by examining some of underlying determinants of individual preferences, and go on to analyze how choices are influenced by ‘strategic’ behavior. We find that male behavior is very well explained by a simple model date-quality maximization. By contrast, we find a number of patterns in female choices that are inconsistent with this model. We suggest two possible extensions of the basic model: (1) a quality-quantity tradeoff in mate selection; (2) rejection aversion to avoid damage to self-esteem; we report evidence that is more consistent with the explanation based on self-esteem. Collectively, our results provide empirical guidance on the functioning of dating markets, and our results on self-esteem specifically provide some evidence of the idea that individuals strategically avoid learning information that is costly to self-image.