Online daters are most likely to contact people with the same level of education as them, but are less fussy about an intellectual match as they get older, according to a new study.
The comprehensive study by researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia analysed the online dating interactions of more than 41,000 Australians aged between 18-80.
“Selecting a mate can be one of the largest psychological and economic decisions a person can make and has long been the subject of social science research across a range of disciplines, all of which acknowledge one phenomenon: positive assortative mating behaviour (homogamy),” said Stephen Whyte from QUT.
Traditionally, humans look for certain characteristics and traits in a partner, including symmetry in areas such as, age, aesthetics, attractiveness, personality, culture, education, religion and race; however the internet has dramatically altered this process.
“The internet has completely changed how people choose dating partners to find love. Our study is a step towards understanding how technology is impacting on mate choice decisions based on education,” the researchers said. “Cyber dating permits multiple partner choices in real time, which allows for a significantly greater available choice of potential mates. This increased pool means greater opportunity for selection of partners with lower, similar or even higher levels of certain characteristics,” they said.
“This includes education, which is commonly used in human mating behaviour as a proxy for resources and future provision as it can represent economic advantages,” they added.
The study included people whose ages ranged from millennials to octogenarians, demonstrating that online dating can give people from all walks of life the opportunity to experience a new way of finding a relationship.
Whyte said another interesting finding from the study was that there was a difference in the way in which men and women looked at education levels in potential partners and also how this changed depending on the life stage of the participants.
“The more educated cohort tends to care less about matching the same level of education as they get older,” said Whyte. “Older women in particular have a greater likelihood of contacting potential partners who are less educated than themselves but conversely, younger males fall into this category as well,” Whyte added. The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.