Do you really have any idea what you desire in a romantic partner?
No, not really.
“People will readily tell you what they value in a romantic partner,” said Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern and co-author of the study. “But study after study shows that those preferences don’t predict whom daters are actually attracted to when they meet flesh-and-blood partners. Now we can get under the hood with this quirky methodology to see what people actually prefer in live-interaction settings.”
Paul W. Eastwick, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M University and lead author of the study, says that the findings raise questions about the way we determine what people want in a partner.
“If a person tells me, for example, that she doesn’t care about how attractive a guy is, our research suggests that her claim isn’t worth all that much,” Eastwick said. “Instead, it would actually be more useful to measure her reaction times on this new task.”
“In many cases, people’s consciously stated attitudes and preferences predict their behavior quite well,” Eagly said. “But in the case of attraction, people’s implicit, unconscious preferences seem to do a better job.”
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