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New Study Shows Online Daters Aren’t So Picky

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Do you have a “wish list” for a future romantic partner? For instance, do you have a preference for height, career, body type, or whether or not your match is into yoga? Most of us do have a wish list for an ideal partner, but a new study shows that we tend to ditch those lists when we go searching for matches online.

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology analyzed the dating preferences and contact behavior of more than 41,000 Australians between 18-80 on dating website RSVP. What they found was that despite the fact that most online daters have a clear list of preferences for their ideal partners, they still contacted people who bore no resemblance to these preferences. The study was conducted by behavioural economists Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler.

“Stating a preference for what you are looking for appears to have little to no bearing on the characteristics of people you actually contact," Stephen Whyte told Science Daily.

This goes against the logic behind algorithms and online dating. Most users share their preferences in their profiles, and are matched according to similar backgrounds, beliefs, hobbies, and other criteria. According to this research, it doesn’t really matter for these daters how well their profiles match up or what they are looking for in a partner, because ultimately they might choose quickly without much thought to their lists.

"The psychology employed by humans choosing a mate can definitely be environmentally sensitive and the nature of online dating is triggering changes in underlying preferences and decision behavior of those involved,” Mr. White stated in the study.

As online dating continues to grow, the researchers say our behaviors will evolve along with it. Case in point: we are less willing to hold out for the “perfect” person and more interested in finding someone who might have potential. It opens up more opportunities for daters to look for a match outside his or her “type.”

Is this a cynical look at online dating? Are daters more inclined to “settle” rather than to keep searching for true love?

According to the researchers, online daters should in fact feel more hopeful by the results of this study.

"This study provides quite unique findings in that people may state a preference for an ideal partner but they are more than happy to initiate contact with potential love interests that bear no resemblance whatsoever to that 'Mr or Mrs Perfect' they initially think they prefer over all others,” White told Science Daily. “I think it's really encouraging findings for people searching for that special someone online.”