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I wasn’t the only one who had matched with the same number.
Assortative mating suggests this kind of even matching is roughly how dating works.
Over dinner at a recently renovated firehouse-turned-pizza-kitchen in downtown Durham, NC, Dan Ariely, noted scholar of irrationality (and my boss), hosted a talk on the science of dating and relationships.
While he was speaking, an assistant affixed to each person’s forehead a post-it note labeled with a number between one and ten.
Either way, the results were the same: the longer you’ve known someone, the more your rating of them differs from everyone else’s.
While you might join the crowd in saying that someone you just met is a six, you might start to see that six as a seven once you get to know them better.
To test the effect of diverging personal preferences on real couples, the three (Paul Eastwick, Lucy Hunt, and E. Finkel) asked 167 couples how long they’d known each other before becoming romantically involved—and whether they were friends first.
On average, couples knew each other for about four months before they started dating, and about 40 percent of couples were friends before pairing off.
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This number signified everyone’s hotness, and the game was to pair off with the highest possible number you could (without looking at your own number).
Since my whole table immediately started to vie for my attention, I suspected right away that I’d lucked out.
Sometimes the real world looks similar to the game we played, but not always.
When a relationship starts between two strangers (like in our example) they tend to be relatively closely matched in attractiveness.