Candy store syndrome online dating
We then recruited about 100 undergraduates who were single and interested in dating and asked them to use Badger Date to identify potential matches.That’s where we introduced the experimental manipulation: Participants were connected with either 24 matches or with just six (six being a subset of the 24) and were asked to pick person to go on a date with.
Many online daters, upon finding themselves connected with scores of potential partners, report feeling like “a kid in a candy store,” eager to explore their options and go on as many dates as possible.
My graduate student, Jonathan D’Angelo, and I began our foray into the research by asking a foundational question about how the availability of potential partners in online dating affects daters’ satisfaction with whoever they choose for a first date, even before that first date takes place: Does having lots of options affect online daters’ evaluation of a potential partner?
Our investigation was guided by satisfied with whatever they choose when they have a large pool of options.
This pattern was replicated with many purchase items—pens, chocolates, cars—and we thought it might also emerge when people choose among potential romantic partners.
To test the idea, we created our own dating service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: Badger Date, adorably named (we thought) after our university’s mascot.