New dating data is making a case for the bemoaned “blind date.”
People who believe they have a “type” are fooling themselves, according to social psychology researchers who say that singles “might as well let a stranger pick their dates.”
This is because most people are looking for more general positive qualities in a love interest, such as “kind” and “intelligent” personalities, the researchers from the University of California, Davis, write. These qualities could be present regardless of whether a match falls in line with someone’s type.
The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
“People tend to think that if they can just find a romantic partner who has all the qualities they’re looking for, that it’ll lead to a great, happy relationship,” lead author Jehan Sparks told The Post.
While it might seem as though a person who “matches” the qualities we want could also be the one we like the most, the study suggests that this isn’t the case.
“The specific, positive qualities we’re looking for in a romantic partner may not matter any more than the positive qualities that a random, other person is looking for,” added Sparks.
The study surveyed more than 700 men and women, asking them to name their top-three favorite traits in a romantic match, such as “funny” or “intelligent.” They were then told to rate the attractiveness of some of their acquaintances based on whether they possessed those traits. Then, they were asked to evaluate whether they were still attracted to those acquaintances on the basis of a total stranger’s desired traits, such as “thoughtful” and “down to earth.”
Researchers explained their experiment in everyday terms — from the perspective of ordering food at a restaurant.
“Why do we order off the menu for ourselves?” study co-author professor Paul Eastwick of UC Davis said in a press release. “Because it seems obvious that I will like what I get to pick.”
“Our findings suggest that, in the romantic domain, you might as well let a random stranger order for you,” he said. “You’re just as likely to end up liking what you get.”
The research indicates that the complex algorithms that match online dating users may be a waste of time. A scientifically-backed alternative to finding love online could be apps that rely on a friend or relative to suggest partners Shipwhich asks users’ pals to nominate matches on their behalf.
However, the researchers’ assessment does not apply to exceedingly picky people, who maintain strict standards for physical or mental characteristics.
“As a single woman in my 30s, I’ve spent a lot of time waiting around for the perfect partner who matches my ideals,” said Sparks, calling herself “extremely picky.”
However, she said the research suggests that waiting around is a “suboptimal strategy” and suggests singles give others a chance.
“Don’t wait around to find the perfect match — the things you’re looking for may not be the things you end up liking the most,” said Sparks. “Give people a try, and get to know them over time. Consider dating outside of your ‘type.’ Even better, let your friends pick your dates! You may find that you’re happier because of it.”
Written by Hannah Sparks