Choice Strategies in Mate Selection: An Eye-Tracking Study
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Phillips, Emma C.
Consumer research has revealed that humans will adapt their choice strategy as the number of options increases, tending to employ heuristic techniques to save time and effort. Recently, research has focused on how we make decisions in the domain of mate choice, usually assessed through self-reports. To further this research, the present study examined the impact of the number of mate options and sociosexuality on the actual choice strategy employed (which was determined using an eye-tracker), on the experience of the choice, and on the self-reported choice strategy. Single, straight men chose one potential partner from a set of 4 (limited choice) or 20 (extensive choice) profiles on a mock dating website. Participants tended to use heuristic strategies as the number of potential mates increased, by looking at areas of information less frequently and by beginning their search quicker. However, sociosexuality did not appear to be associated with the choice strategy used, nor did it moderate the impact of the number of options. The choice experience was unaffected by profile condition and sociosexuality, and the self-reported choice strategies did not appear to complement the choice strategies determined by the eye-tracker. Overall, my findings support the concept that as the number of potential mates increases, heuristic strategies will be preferentially employed over a more effortful search pattern.