THE STUDY FEBRUARY 14, 2012
Valentine’s Day is here! Maybe you welcome the once-in-a-year opportunity to embrace schmaltzy romanticism; maybe you’re simply waiting for the February 15 candy sales. Either way, you must be wondering: Have scientists finally uncovered the secret to true love?
A 2006 paper by two researchers at the University of Essex represents some progress on that crucial front. The authors reviewed data from a large speed dating service, which allowed them to study both the demands of people searching for partners and the supply of available potential mates. After all, both factors influence the final, hopefully-ideal match between two people. Their conclusion: “The role of individual preferences is overshadowed by that of market opportunities.” In other words, when it comes to dating, supply matters more than demand. According to the authors, “the pool of potential partners shapes the type of people to whom subjects propose and, ultimately, with whom they form long-term relationships.” Of course, Stephen Stills had this all figured out back in 1970, when he gave that timeless advice about supply and demand: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”