Choosing Potential Partners Based on Physical Features is a Natural Part of Dating

Society dictates that we try to look past others’ appearances, but what appeals to us is still defined by biology. OkCupid’s new body-type filter simply capitalizes on the very process humans have been using for millions of years.

In a 2006 LiveScience article summarizing findings on how humans pick mates, University of Texas psychologist Devendra Singh explained that body type conveys information about health and fertility — information we are evolutionarily adapted to appreciate.  A woman’s waist-to-hip ratio, for example, subconsciously tells males all sorts of nice tidbits about her capacity to reproduce and care for her children, while broad shoulders in men indicate their ability to protect mates and offspring. Body type is not just a trivial preference; it is an important factor in selecting potential mates from those that might be duds.

Although social convention usually denounces judging others based on looks as unacceptably superficial, it is something we humans do very naturally and subconsciously. Try as we might to consider personality, what we see dominates our opinions of people. A 1966 study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Elaine Walster, Vera Aronson, Darcy Abrahams and Leon Rottman on the “Importance of Physical Attractiveness in Dating Behavior” confirmed “the largest determinant of how much [a man] wanted to date the partner again … was simply how attractive the partner was.”

Dismissing such a dominant part of our evolutionary makeup is unrealistic. Similar to the selections in the bar scene, part of the dating process will inevitably include picking and choosing the individuals that one is most attracted to. You can filter potential dates yourself, but if you choose to pay for this option, OkCupid’s CEO Sam Yagan explains succinctly: The filter will simply “save everyone some time.”

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