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Searching for a Mate: Theory and Experimental Evidence


  • Fisman, Raymond

    (Columbia U)

  • Iyengar, Sheena

    (Columbia U)

  • Kamenica, Emir

    (Harvard U)

  • Simonson, Itamar

    (Stanford U)


We provide a theoretical framework for studying mate search and selection based on a two-sided matching model. Guided by the model, we study dating behavior using data from an experimental dating market, where we generate random matching of subjects and create random variation in the number of potential partners. Male selectivity is invariant to group size, while female selectivity is strongly increasing in group size. This difference implies that the female net utility function of dating is more concave in the number of dates. We also report the valuation of various attributes by men and women; in accordance with the common stereotype, females put greater weight on intelligence relative to males, while males put relatively greater weight on physical appearance. Further, we find that males are less attracted to females with intelligence or ambition greater than their own.

Suggested Citation

  • Fisman, Raymond & Iyengar, Sheena & Kamenica, Emir & Simonson, Itamar, 2005. "Searching for a Mate: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Research Papers 1882, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1882

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Shimer & Lones Smith, 2000. "Assortative Matching and Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 343-370, March.
    2. Roth,Alvin E. & Sotomayor,Marilda A. Oliveira, 1992. "Two-Sided Matching," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521437882.
    3. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "New developments in models of search in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 39, pages 2567-2627 Elsevier.
    4. Guenter Hitsch & Ali Hortacsu, 2005. "What Makes You Click? An Empirical Analysis of Online Dating," 2005 Meeting Papers 207, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
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