New research on politics and mate selection

Debates over contraception and the economy represent only a few of the many issues illustrating the widening gap between the ideological left and right in the United States. While there are a number of different explanations for this change in American politics, we suggest that human mate choice plays some role in this process. Spouses tend to share political preferences, and parents pass on their political preferences to their children.

This said, spouses do not influence each other’s political preferences over the course of the relationship (Alford et al. 2011), and politics is not a salient factor at the outset of the dating process (Klofstad et al. 2011). To address this mystery, using a survey of online dating profiles we examined the dating preferences of liberals and conservatives. With a few exceptions, we find that both liberals and conservatives prefer to date others who are like themselves. And, the non-political traits that those on the left and right assort on do have some role in political assortation. For example, liberals seek out dates with more education, and conservatives with less, and education has been found to correlate with tolerance (e.g., Bobo and Licari 1989). Consequently, it could be that the pervasive practice of assortation on non-political factors could be inadvertently leading to assortation on political preferences, which in turn leads to political polarization over time.

From a recently published article entitled “The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives” by Klofstad, et al. available here.

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