“Great personality” has always been more of a backhanded compliment than anything else. For the jaded realists it means that a person must first see past your scaly exterior to discover what a catch you are. Hardly a comfort in a dating culture that increasingly relies on profile photos and first impressions. But recent research suggests that a pretty face will only get you so far.
Research conducted at the University of Texas at Austin and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that our opinion of a person’s desirability does in fact change upon getting to know them better—in other words, to know is to love.
Researchers conducted three rounds of studies in which they asked participants to rate a group of people for their perceived value as a partner. In the first study, participants rated people they’d never met; in the second study, people they’d known for two months; and in the third study, people they had known for at least three years. In the first study participants largely agreed on who was desirable, but in the second and third study people's perceptions changed and they largely disagreed with one another’s assessment of who would and would not make a desirable partner.
“These findings are a good thing if people don’t care about getting the [conventionally ideal] mate, but care about finding the mate that is good and compatible for them,” study author Dr. Paul W. Eastwick told Time.com. But what’s more, this study could perhaps shake the confidence of those who swear by first impressions or flit from first date to first date.
In a recent article in The Huffington Post, Ashley Crouch and Johanna Hyatt argue that millenials are increasingly dependent upon that “spark” to determine who will or will not be considered as a potential partner and we're also paying the price. But what would happen if we put away our preconceptions about our types and waited three or four dates? If these recent finding are any indication, it’s likely we will find that spark, soul mate—or just more accurate assessments about compatibility.
Photo by Taylor McCutchan