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On the other hand, it could mean that people try to find slightly more attractive mates – which results in the same pattern as the most desirable partners pair off, followed by the next most desirable, and so on.The problem is that looking at established couples leaves out the actual process of courtship – which could tell you much more about what people look for in a mate, how they woo them and how often they’re rejected.“What you don’t observe is all the people who asked out someone who said ‘no’ – which is really the information you need if you want to understand desirability hierarchies,” said lead author Elizabeth Bruch, a computational sociologist at the University of Michigan.The scientists found that men and women sent initial messages to potential partners who were more desirable than them – men went 26% higher on average, while the women aimed 23% higher.Did these users simply think they were more desirable than they actually were?Oath will also provide relevant ads to you on our partners' products.

It seems that people do seek out more desirable partners – but that desirability is closely calibrated to their own attractiveness.

“They’re not being as enthusiastic when they’re approaching more desirable partners.” Strangely, the men’s strategy seemed to work.

In all four cities, men had slightly lower reply rates from women when they wrote more positively worded messages.“That was a surprising finding — I was not expecting that,” Bruch said.

Rather than gauge individual attractiveness or desirability themselves, the scientists relied on the site users to do the rankings: Users were ranked as more desirable depending on how many first messages they received, and depending on how desirable the senders themselves were.

It’s an iterative algorithm called Page Rank, used by Google to rank websites in their search engine results.

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