Searching for a Mate: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Stanford GSB Research Paper No. 1882

31 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2005

See all articles by Raymond J. Fisman

Raymond J. Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Boston University

Sheena S. Iyengar

Columbia Business School - Management Division

Emir Kamenica

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics

Itamar Simonson

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Date Written: January 2005

Abstract

We provide a theoretical framework for studying mate search and selection based on a two-sided matching model. Guided by the model, we study dating behavior using data from an experimental dating market, where we generate random matching of subjects and create random variation in the number of potential partners. Male selectivity is invariant to group size, while female selectivity is strongly increasing in group size. This difference implies that the female net utility function of dating is more concave in the number of dates. We also report the valuation of various attributes by men and women; in accordance with the common stereotype, females put greater weight on intelligence relative to males, while males put relatively greater weight on physical appearance. Further, we find that males are less attracted to females with intelligence or ambition greater than their own.

Suggested Citation

Fisman, Raymond and Sethi-Iyengar, Sheena S. and Kamenica, Emir and Simonson, Itamar, Searching for a Mate: Theory and Experimental Evidence (January 2005). Stanford GSB Research Paper No. 1882. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=678304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.678304

Raymond Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Sheena S. Sethi-Iyengar

Columbia Business School - Management Division ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Emir Kamenica

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics ( email )

Graduate School of Business
5807 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Itamar Simonson (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Center
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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