Self-esteem and the Matching Effect in Mate Selection


The matching effect is the empirical finding that romantic couples have a high correlation in physical attractiveness. It remains a debate as to whether this correlation is based purely on similarity preference - the matching hypothesis - or marketplace forces. We present a new marketplace model for romantic relationships. Previous models granted every person access to his/her own attractiveness. In reality, people have only a vague idea of their own attractiveness ratings. We introduce a concept analogous to self-esteem to model this phenomenon. Further, we extend beyond previous models by dealing explicitly with both the initialization and development of a relationship. Our model accounts for the experimental tendency to choose more attractive partners, while still explaining observed intra-couple attractiveness correlation and the difference in correlation between casual and serious daters.

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