Thursday, September 13, 2012

The secrets of dating with an economic twist

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Following yesterday's discussion on photoshopping on Facebook, I would like to focus on the ever complicated topic of dating. When I was studying for my undergraduate degree I was good friends with a lady who had all the characteristics of a model. I remember her complaining to me and the other friends in our "crew" that she was always single and that no one paid any attention to her.

For the men as well as the women in the group this was a true puzzle. She was pretty and she was all around a nice person. Why was it then impossible to find someone? Have you come across a similar story? At the same time, other less attractive and meaner girls in our group were in happy relationships.

It was not until I watched "Beautiful mind" and started studying game theory in economics that I started to understand this type of human behavior. We can consider the dating world as any market where there is demand and supply for members of each gender. Approaching someone is a rather tricky business.

Remember the scene from the movie when a group of three women enter a bar? One of them really stands out and immediately draws the looks of every male in the establishment. Where the men's primal urge is to approach this lady, Nash is correct to suggest that such a strategy would be self defeating. If all the men approach the woman that stands out the probability of failure for everyone is high. If however the men approach the remaining women in the group first, the beautiful woman will find this strange and begin to wonder about her ability to attract men. It is at this time that she will be the most vulnerable.

Let us take another look from the female perspective this time. Consider that a group of young but bald men enter a restaurant. They look successful and well mannered. You, as  lady have three options:

What do you do if someone from their group approaches you? The answer lies in the perception of yourself, but the game theory behind your decision is still the same.

As a lady, you have the luxury of being approached rather than approaching. You can reject or accept based on what you see in front of you. A sociology professor once said something during a lecture that stayed with me. Subconsciously we are looking for our other half, and our other half is not significantly different from our personality. True happiness lies in the ability to see past certain attributes and adapting without losing the scope of reality. The Nash equilibrium in the game above would be to reconsider the rank of attributes and look past the "baldness". Anything else would be short lived and doomed from the start.

How would you play the game? Have a nice day!


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