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In a study that looked at online daters across the lifespan, even older men “sought physical attractiveness and offered status-related information more than women” and women continued to be the more selective gender (Sears-Roberts Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009).

In a nine-month study of participants on a dating site in 20, Andrew Fiore, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues examined stated preferences and actual messaging behavior (Fiore et al., 2010).

Take Your Pick For millions of years, humans have been selecting mates using the wealth of information gleaned in face-to-face interactions — not just appearance, but characteristics such as tone of voice, body language, and scent, as well as immediate feedback to their own communications. Or are words the key to someone’s heart (or at least their inbox)?

Women also initiate and reply to contact less than men.

While this has led to dates, relationships and marriages around the globe, it has also been a boon for enterprising researchers — providing huge datasets chronicling real world behavior.

Psychological scientists have been studying attraction, love, and romantic relationships for decades, but online matching and speed dating have given researchers unprecedented opportunity to explore who’s attracted to whom and why.

Hitsch and colleagues found that similarity was strongly preferred in a variety of factors, including age, education, height, religion, political views, and smoking. Interestingly, women have a more pronounced same-race preference, and this preference is not always revealed in their stated preferences (Hitsch, et al., 2009).

Although males’ race preferences tended to coincide with their stated preferences, women either did not want to admit to, or possibly were not even consciously aware of, these preferences.