‘Sleeping With the Enemy’: Partisan Sorting in Online Dating

53 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2023 Last revised: 27 Nov 2023

See all articles by Georgios Melios

Georgios Melios

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science; University College London

Yara Sleiman

Univeristy College London; London School of Economics

Paul Dolan

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: August 1, 2023

Abstract

How do politics affect non-political decisions? A key aspect of this question concerns the extent to which partisan biases stem from out-group animus or assumptions about associated traits. To address this question, we focus on online dating to identify factors that mitigate these biases. Through a conjoint experiment with 3,000 UK participants, we disentangle the influence of partisanship from political and non-political confounding factors. We show that partisanship and physical appearance equally influence dating decisions. At the same time though, political tolerance has a significantly stronger effect. Our results also indicate important asymmetries in preferences among partisans. While both exhibit an in-party bias, Labour supporters were roughly twice as likely to choose co-partisan dates compared to Conservatives. Counter-stereotypic traits mitigate partisan biases among Conservatives but exacerbate them among Labour supporters. The overarching theme discerned is clear: while partisanship undoubtedly holds sway in the dating realm, other factors — many previously overlooked or under-emphasized — can meaningfully mediate its influence.

Keywords: Partisanship, Online Dating, Tolerance

Suggested Citation

Melios, Georgios and Sleiman, Yara and Dolan, Paul, ‘Sleeping With the Enemy’: Partisan Sorting in Online Dating (August 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4589420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4589420

Georgios Melios (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science ( email )

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University College London ( email )

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Yara Sleiman

Univeristy College London ( email )

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London School of Economics ( email )

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Paul Dolan

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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