The More Dates You Have, The Lousier The Choice?

Okay, so we've all been there on a weekend night when we walked into some hip hangout or crowded nightclub and felt a little overwhelmed. It's not just the amped up music or the bone-crushing room density. Look around and there are so many hotties. I mean, so many potential crushes, so little time. Well, according to a study reported by Psychological Science, there's a good reason our brains cramp up a little in situations like that.

Scientists have long known that when consumers have too many choices such as too many kinds of chocolate or laundry detergents on the store shelves, their brain gets all wonky and doesn't make good decisions. And so, some love-minded researchers at the University of Edinburgh wondered, "Is having too many mate options really like having too many jams?" They set to work analyzing speed-dating events comparing the preferences of participants at smaller and larger events.

It turned out that at bigger speed dating events with 24 or more dates, both men and women were more likely to base their choices on the most obvious attributes like height and weight. But at smaller events their choices were more likely to be made on more complicated factors that take longer to identify such as the date's education, career and health habits.

"Obviously, I think we look for different attributes in partners than what we look for in a chocolate, a jam or a 401(k) plan," says Alison Lenton, one of the psychological scientists involved in the study. "But one of the points we're trying to make in this article is it's the same brain we're carrying around. There are constraints on what our brains can do — they're quite powerful, but they can't pay attention to everything at once."

So for any of you who have ever felt like a wallflower, lacking for dates, you may be taking your time and making a better choice.

Story by Anne Driscoll. Originally published by Tonic.

Image via Psychology Today

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