An Empirical Examination of 'Love at First Sight': The Effect of Similarity in Attractiveness on Automatic Mate Selection Behaviors Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Kurtz, Laura
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • High quality relationships are robustly linked with greater health and wellbeing across a number of dimensions. Increasingly, people are turning to online dating websites and applications as a way to initiate such relationships. However, many of the matching procedures used in online dating platforms are both cumbersome to the user and prone to various reporting biases. The current work examines if one’s automatic behavior might serve as a signal of underlying mate selection processes and a subsequent predictor of initial attraction. Across three samples, participants’ reaction times when evaluating the photographs of potential mates were predicted by the degree of similarity in attractiveness between the participant and the target, with greater similarity leading to slower reaction times. The final study utilized a speed dating event to test whether participants’ reaction times might subsequently predict whether they hit it off with a target upon first meeting. Results demonstrated partial support for the hypothesis, with longer reaction times predicting greater interaction quality, liking, closeness, and affiliative desires for women but not for men. Implications for the past and future of online dating and relationships research are discussed.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Sheeran, Paschal
  • Melwani, Shimul
  • Algoe, Sara
  • Castro-Schilo, Laura
  • Fredrickson, Barbara
  • Payne, B. Keith
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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