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Personality is more important than finances when it comes to dating

In the world of dating, personality has become a more significant factor than finances, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of York and the University of Essex. 

The study analyzed over a million lonely hearts ads from various major news outlets in Canada, France, India, and the USA to see how partner preferences have changed over time. They collected data from publications dating back from 1950 to 1995, and also looked at ads from 41 regional newspapers in Canada and the USA in 1995.

The researchers analyzed the language used in these ads and grouped them into four distinct categories: economic, personality, physical, and taste preferences. The economic category focused on a potential partner’s financial situation, while personality covered traits such as openness or extroversion. 

The physical category expressed a preference for body types, while the taste category covered issues like hobbies or habits. This allowed the researchers to identify broader trends of how partner preferences changed over time in a range of countries.

The study found that in Western countries such as the USA, France, and Canada, personality played a much greater role in partner preference between 1950 and 1995, while economic factors declined in importance, particularly after the 1960s. On the other hand, in India, finances remained a key issue for people searching for love, becoming more prominent after 1970, while personality factors remained stable.

In the sample of ads from Canada and the USA, by 1995 around 40-45% of the words used by women to describe their ideal partner related to personality criteria. At the same time, only around 10% mentioned finances. Similarly, 35-40% of words in lonely hearts ads placed by men by 1995 focused on personality traits, while only 5% were related to economic factors.

The researchers found that up until the 1970s, the share of words relating to finances in Indian ads remained stable at around 35%, but after the 1970s, this started to rise. By 1995, this had increased to around 60%. The data also showed some gender disparity in the importance of economic factors in the ads, with a greater rise in the importance of economic factors in ads placed by women than those placed by men.

Study co-author Khushboo Surana suggested that the data supports Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs, where material needs have to be satisfied before focusing on immaterial ones, such as personality traits. “It is possible that unlike in the west, people’s first-order needs still haven’t been satisfied, which is why we see a focus on economic criteria,” said Surana.

“Our study shows personality becoming more and more important in western countries such as the United States, but we don’t see the same trend in India. Once India’s economy develops further, and the current generation is more financially secure, they may show a change in preference for personality factors as well. This would align them with the trends we see in the western countries we sampled,” said study co-author Quentin Lippmann.

Overall, the study highlights the changing partner preferences over time in different countries and underscores the importance of factors such as economics and personality in the dating world.

How dating apps helped spark this change

Dating apps have fundamentally changed the dating landscape by making it easier for people to connect and meet potential partners. Here are some ways in which dating apps have changed dating:

  1. Increased accessibility: Dating apps have made it possible for people to meet and connect with others from all over the world. With just a few taps on a mobile device, users can browse through profiles, chat with potential matches, and arrange dates.
  2. Greater convenience: Dating apps allow users to connect with potential partners on their own time, from anywhere. They don’t have to wait until they’re at a bar or party to meet someone new.
  3. More options: Dating apps provide users with access to a much larger pool of potential partners than they would have otherwise. This makes it easier for users to find someone who shares their interests and values.
  4. Changing dating norms: Dating apps have also played a role in changing societal attitudes towards dating. The stigma around online dating has largely disappeared, and more people are open to the idea of meeting a partner online.
  5. Focus on physical appearance: One downside of dating apps is that they can place a greater emphasis on physical appearance. Users often make decisions based on a few photos and a brief bio, which can lead to more superficial judgments.

Overall, dating apps have made it easier for people to connect and find potential partners, but they have also changed the way we approach dating and relationships.


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