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Another common tactic men and women employed was to send desirable prospects longer messages – but it didn’t really seem to result in a higher response rate, she said.
There was one exception: Seattle men had the “most pronounced” rise in message length for desirable partners, and the strategy actually seemed to work, resulting in a higher response rate.
For men seeking more desirable women, the response rate went as high as 21% — high enough that the effort may be worth it, the scientists said.“One of the take home messages here is that it might pay to be persistent,” Bruch said – to send messages to many desirable users, in the hopes of getting a response from one of them.“It seems like even writing 10 messages to find someone you find incredibly desirable is a pretty modest investment of time and energy,” she said.
Bruch also pointed to other research indicating that, essentially, people are at their most superficial in the earliest stages of when they meet, and begin to value other characteristics as they get to know each other.“If that’s true, then what we would expect is that these desirability differences matter most in this first message and reply,” she said, “and then the desirability gap ceases to be as important in determining whether people move on to the next stage.”Perhaps studying the number of follow-up messages, or the contents of the replies, could start to shed more light on that dynamic, said Bruch.
Men tend to be even more aspirational than women when sending a first message.
It seems that people do seek out more desirable partners – but that desirability is closely calibrated to their own attractiveness.
“That behavior resonated with pickup artist strategies” such as negging, a kind of emotional manipulation where someone makes a backhanded compliment to another person in order to erode their confidence and increase their need for approval.
Bruch said one of her graduate students is developing an explanation for why this strategy seems to work.
On the other hand, it could mean that people try to find slightly more attractive mates – which results in the same pattern as the most desirable partners pair off, followed by the next most desirable, and so on.
The problem is that looking at established couples leaves out the actual process of courtship – which could tell you much more about what people look for in a mate, how they woo them and how often they’re rejected.“What you don’t observe is all the people who asked out someone who said ‘no’ – which is really the information you need if you want to understand desirability hierarchies,” said lead author Elizabeth Bruch, a computational sociologist at the University of Michigan.