The order of profiles on dating website can change people’s dater choice

Due to technology development, people are increasingly turning to online dating websites and smartphone apps to meet new dating partners.

It is common that one can see a series of dating targets and view their profiles in sequence. After that, s/he can decide who gets the best romantic interest.

Now researchers from the USA and Canada find that the order of profiles can change people’s mind about dater selection. The study is published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

In the study, researchers focus on a trait crucial to relationship success – partner responsiveness. A responsive partner is caring, understanding, and can create a more intimate, satisfying and committed relationship. Usually, responsive partners get more romantic interest than unresponsive partners.

Researchers want to know how presenting order can influence the role of responsiveness in dating decisions. They presented photos paired with responsive statements or unresponsive statements.

Responsive statements were like “When I am dating someone, I really care about putting in the effort and making it work”, or “When I am in a relationship, I like to make sure my girlfriend feels understood and that I get who she is and what she needs”.

Unresponsive statements were like “I get bored talking about feelings and stuff” or “I am pretty focused on my career so I don’t expect my relationship to always come first”.

Both responsive and unresponsive profile photos could be attractive or unattractive.

In experiment 1, women participants were asked to rate their dating interests to each profile. Unresponsive targets could either follow responsive targets or be followed by responsive targets.

The result showed that when women saw unresponsive profiles first, they showed stronger romantic interests to responsive profiles, regardless of attractiveness.

In experiment 2, researchers focused on romantic evaluations on responsive but unattractive profile. They found that participants still showed more dating interest in responsive profiles that appeared after unresponsive profiles, even thought they were not attractive.

Researchers suggest that although features like personality are important in making dating decisions, context is also very powerful. In addition, responsiveness may be more important than attractiveness in initial dating selection.

Citation: Spielmann SS, MacDonald G. (2016). Nice guys finish first when presented second: Responsive daters are evaluated more positively following exposure to unresponsive daters. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 64: 99-105.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.