About Me

April 19, 2011

The best way to date (weirdly, it involves math)

Apparently the best way to date involves math. Go figure!

That's according to this Psychology Today article, "Why Dating is Difficult in New York (or London)," by Satoshi Kanazawa: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200910/why-dating-is-difficult-in-new-york-or-london

Turns out we should reject the first 37% of the potential mates we meet (no matter how good or bad they are), then pick the first candidate who is better than any of the other earlier candidates. Dating in New York City, or in any highly populated city, is harder and more time-consuming than dating in a small town because there are more potential mates to choose from. According to the paper by Gilbert and Mosteller that Kanazawa quotes in his article, if you live in Ames, Iowa, and only have 10 potential mates to choose from, you should reject the first four, then start dating the next potential mate who is better than any of the pevious four. But if you live in New York City and have 1,000 potential mates to choose from, you should reject the first 369 potential mates you meet, then start dating the next one who is better than the earlier 369. If you follow this strategy, there is a 37% chance you will choose the right mate -- which may not sound all that high, but as Kanazawa writes, "there are no other strategies that you can consistently follow which will produce a higher average probability of choosing the best of all candidates."

Geez. No wonder dating in New York was always so exhausting!

This study is from 1966, though. Makes you wonder how Gilbert & Mosteller would even define the number of potential mates we can come across today on the Internet. What's 37% of infinity??