Concept

Matching hypothesis

Summary
The matching hypothesis (also known as the matching phenomenon) argues that people are more likely to form and succeed in a committed relationship with someone who is equally socially desirable, typically in the form of physical attraction. The hypothesis is derived from the discipline of social psychology and was first proposed by American social psychologist Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues in 1966. Successful couples of differing physical attractiveness may be together due to other matching variables that compensate for the difference in attractiveness. For instance, some men with wealth and status desire younger, more attractive women. Some women are more likely to overlook physical attractiveness for men who possess wealth and status. It is also similar to some of the theorems outlined in uncertainty reduction theory, from the post-positivist discipline of communication studies. These theorems include constructs of nonverbal expression, perceived similarity, liking, information seeking, and intimacy, and their correlations to one another. Walster advertised a "Computer Match Dance". 752 student participants were rated on physical attractiveness by four independent judges, as a measure of social desirability. Participants were told to fill in a questionnaire for the purposes of computer matching based on similarity. Instead, participants were randomly paired, except no man was paired with a taller woman. During an intermission of the dance, participants were asked to assess their date. People with higher ratings were found to have more harsh judgment of their dates. Furthermore, higher levels of attractiveness indicated lower levels of satisfaction with their pairing, even when they were on the same level. It was also found that both men and women were more satisfied with their dates if their dates had high levels of attractiveness. Physical attractiveness was found to be the most important factor in enjoying the date and whether or not they would sleep with them when propositioned.
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