Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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Taylor et al Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. PSPXXX10 1177 0146167211409947Shaw,Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Out of My League A Real World 37 7 942 954,2011 by the Society for. Personality and Social Psychology Inc, Test of the Matching Hypothesis Reprints and permission. sagepub com journalsPermissions nav,DOI 10 1177 0146167211409947. http psp sagepub com,Lindsay Shaw Taylor1 Andrew T Fiore1.
G A Mendelsohn1 and Coye Cheshire1, The matching hypothesis predicts that individuals on the dating market will assess their own self worth and select partners. whose social desirability approximately equals their own It is often treated as well established despite a dearth of empirical. evidence to support it In the current research the authors sought to address conceptual and methodological inconsistencies. in the extant literature and to examine whether matching occurs as defined by Walster et al and more generally Using data. collected in the laboratory and from users of a popular online dating site the authors found evidence for matching based. on self worth physical attractiveness and popularity but to different degrees and not always at the same stage of the dating. matching hypothesis courtship online dating interpersonal attraction self worth similarity. Received May 29 2010 revision accepted January 14 2011. Walster Aronson Abrahams and Rottman s 1966 match wide array of dimensions e g Luo Klohnen 2005 Watson. ing hypothesis posits that when initiating romantic relation et al 2004 However evidence in support of the matching. ships individuals seek out partners whose social desirability hypothesis itself which deals specifically with initial partner. approximately equals their own When choosing a partner selection not with attraction or similarity between long term. individuals in the dating market assess their own value and partners is scarce In fact most studies designed to test the. select the best available candidates who upon making a sim matching hypothesis including the original experiment. ilar assessment are also likely to be attracted to them Thus Walster et al 1966 and a replication Brislin Lewis. they actually opt for partners of similar social desirability 1968 have not found that individuals select similarly desir. because by selecting partners who are in their league they able partners Rather the consistent finding from this body. maximize their chances of a successful outcome For a of research is that most people regardless of their own. similar argument see Murstein s 1970 stimulus value role appeal prefer highly desirable partners. theory We argue that despite how it is often presented the match. Judging from its treatment in textbooks the matching ing hypothesis has not been empirically validated moreover. hypothesis is widely accepted as confirmed e g Gleitman in important ways it has not been tested To substantiate the. Reisberg Gross 2007 Myers 1996 This is probably matching hypothesis as it was set forth research must verify. because at the theoretical level the matching hypothesis is three key features of the hypothesis first that individuals. compatible with established theories such as social exchange self assessments of their social worth as distinct from others. theory Thibaut Kelley 1959 and equity theory e g judgments of them predict matching second that romantic. Walster Berscheid Walster 1973 Walster Walster partners are matched on social desirability and third and. Berscheid 1978 which argue that individuals are motivated most importantly that individuals actually seek out and vol. to form and are most satisfied in relationships in which part untarily select partners of similar social worth Past research. ners bring approximately equal contributions to the table has failed to demonstrate each of these elements. Evolutionary theorists also argue that men and women select. each other based on their perceived mate value specifically University of California Berkeley Berkeley CA USA. seeking others of equivalent value Buss Shackelford. Corresponding Author, 2008 Furthermore it is well documented that similarity is Lindsay Shaw Taylor University of California Berkeley 4143 Tolman Hall. related to interpersonal attraction Montoya Horton Kirchner Berkeley CA 94720 1650. 2008 and that long term partners tend to be similar on a Email lstaylor berkeley edu. Downloaded from psp sagepub com at UNIV CALIFORNIA BERKELEY LIB on June 15 2011. Shaw Taylor et al 943, The first two points are both conceptual and methodological both attractive and unattractive participants self reported that. The matching hypothesis states that individuals consider they preferred the more attractive confederates and the set. their own self worth when deciding how desirable a partner ting was not clearly romantic In the other Montoya 2008. to aim for in the dating pool However the original tests of Study 4 reported that participants who were more objec. the hypothesis Brislin Lewis 1968 Walster et al 1966 tively physically attractive i e as judged by others thought. focused on matching based on physical attractiveness for it more likely that they would be in relationships with attrac. reasons that were apparently more pragmatic than theoreti tive others whereas less attractive participants thought it. cally driven In those studies experimenters randomly more likely that they would be in relationships with less. assigned dates for college students attending a dance So as attractive others However this does not necessarily speak to. not to reveal the true purpose of the dance raters surrepti whom they would choose for a partner only with whom they. tiously judged participants physical attractiveness as a mea expect to end up see Kalick and Hamilton s 1986 model. sure of social worth Since those studies researchers have that demonstrates how matching can occur even when indi. focused almost exclusively on physical attractiveness except viduals are not motivated to select similar partners Also the. Huston 1973 and Walster 1970 although neither found same analyses using participants self assessed physical. evidence of matching Consequently Sprecher and Hatfield attractiveness did not yield a crossover interaction. 2009 explain Except for these studies that are cited as being consistent. with the matching hypothesis have reported not crossover. Although the original matching hypothesis proposed interactions but instead strong main effects of partner attrac. that people would pair up with someone as socially tiveness that were moderated by participants own attractive. desirable as themselves choosing people who were ness e g Berscheid Dion Walster Walster 1971 Study 1. equal in a panoply of assets over time the matching Stroebe Insko Thompson Layton 1971 These studies. hypothesis has come to be associated specifically with found that all participants preferred attractive to unattractive. matching on physical attractiveness italics original partners but this tendency was somewhat stronger among. p 1067 attractive participants They did not find that unattractive. participants preferred unattractive partners over attractive. This is a significant departure from the original intent and it ones Moreover many studies designed to test the matching. leaves open an important question about whether matching hypothesis do not support it at all Instead they report only. in fact occurs with regard to social desirability more gener that all participants prefer attractive partners Berscheid et al. ally Moreover in some studies attractiveness has been 1971 Study 2 Curran Lippold 1975 Walster 1970. measured by self judgments in some by the judgments of Even in the original experiments Brislin Lewis 1968. others and in others by both but these different measure Walster et al 1966 the only significant predictor of partici. ments can lead to different outcomes e g Montoya 2008 pants attitudes toward their dates at the end of the dance. Since the matching hypothesis is about how individuals was the dates physical attractiveness irrespective of. self assessments of their own worth affect their choice of their own attractiveness participants liked highly attractive. dating partners studies that use others ratings especially dates more. others ratings of physical attractiveness are not consistent When most studies find that even unattractive individu. with the hypothesis als prefer attractive partners it is not accurate to say that the. The third point that individuals will voluntarily select matching hypothesis has been definitively supported and. similarly desirable partners is at the heart of the matching that for example people seek partners who are roughly at. hypothesis and leads to the most striking prediction derived the same level of attractiveness that they are Gleitman. from it namely that undesirable individuals will actually et al 2007 p 69 Kalick and Hamilton 1986 made this. choose undesirable partners The matching hypothesis pre point more than 20 years ago but until recently empirical. dicts a crossover interaction such that highly desirable indi interest in the matching hypothesis waned probably because. viduals select desirable partners and reject undesirable it was regarded as already well confirmed The lack of follow up. partners whereas low desirability individuals select undesir might also be due to the enormous difficulties faced by. able and reject desirable partners At present there is almost researchers in creating a realistic dating setting in which to. no evidence to support this prediction In fact we know of test the matching hypothesis Because it deals specifically. only two studies that report a crossover interaction In one with choices made by individuals about whom they will. van Straaten Engels Finkenauer Holland 2009 partici attempt to date the ideal test of the matching hypothesis. pants were videotaped while conversing with a high or involves a dynamic dating situation in which individuals. low attractive opposite sex confederate Independent raters choose partners from a large pool of candidates Instead. judged unattractive men to be more engaged with unattractive past studies paired up participants for dates Brislin. female confederates and attractive men to be more engaged Lewis 1968 Curran Lippold 1975 Walster et al 1966. with attractive female confederates However all women or participants rated hypothetical partners e g Stroebe. were more engaged with the attractive male confederates et al 1971 or partners whom they had no expectations of. Downloaded from psp sagepub com at UNIV CALIFORNIA BERKELEY LIB on June 15 2011. 944 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 37 7. actually dating e g Huston 1973 Studies such as these self views rather than simply physical attractiveness After. assess attraction to or preferences for attractive partners but viewing online dating style profiles belonging to individuals. we cannot know whether participants ratings of hypotheti targets varying in social desirability participants rated. cal partners for example reflect whom they would actually their interest in dating each of the targets similar to Berscheid. choose to date Eastwick Finkel 2008 This is particu et al 1971 Study 2 Stroebe et al 1971 Walster 1970 We. larly problematic because Walster and colleagues 1966 evaluated the extent to which interest in dating a target was a. were careful to distinguish between fantasy partners function of the interaction between the self worth of the par. whom they assume will be highly desirable and realistic ticipant and the social desirability of the target We also. social choices whose desirability should match one s own examined the possibility originally suggested but not sup. The popularity of Internet dating sites now provides an ported by Berscheid and colleagues 1971 that the relation. opportunity for researchers to observe dating behavior ship between self worth and interest in dating a target was. unconstrained by the laboratory Available studies of actual mediated by expectations of being accepted by the target. dating behavior online have yielded mixed results with Studies 2 through 4 were designed to look at whom peo. regard to the matching hypothesis For example one recent ple actually select as dating partners by examining the. study of online dating found that individuals with more choices made by users of a popular online dating site Using. attractive profile pictures garnered more emails from other the site s activity logs we were able to identify communicat. users independent of the senders own attractiveness Hitsch ing dyads pairs of people who corresponded with one. Hortacsu Ariely 2010 Other studies suggest that indi another on the site to see if they tended to be similarly. viduals strike a balance between wanting a highly attractive desirable using several indices of social desirability In. partner and the reality constraints proposed by the match Study 2 we assessed communicating partners physical. ing hypothesis at least when it comes to physical attrac attractiveness as judged by outside raters similar to Brislin. tiveness Lee Loewenstein Ariely Hong and Young Lewis 1968 Walster et al 1966 whereas in Study 3. 2008 report that users of the website HOTorNOT com online daters completed ratings of their own self worth. preferred others who were slightly more attractive than Studies 3 and 4 also included a novel assessment of social. they but also that there was a significant relationship between desirability participants popularity on the site measured by. Taylor et al Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 1University of California Berkeley Berkeley CA USA Corresponding Author Lindsay Shaw Taylor University of California Berkeley 4143 Tolman Hall Berkeley CA 94720 1650 Email lstaylor berkeley edu Out of My League A Real World Test of the Matching Hypothesis Lindsay Shaw Taylor1 Andrew T Fiore1 G A Mendelsohn1 and

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