The Effect of Cognitive Load on Human Mate Choice in Online Dating
Chisholm 2011 MA.pdf (167.2Kb)
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Abstract The study of human strategies for mate choice has recently developed to take into account online choice decisions, including those made in an online dating environment. Previous studies have suggested the presence of a ‘too much choice effect’ where having many options to choose from, or being overloaded with information, has a de-motivating effect on a person choosing. People have been found to cope with this choice in a number of ways including using heuristic based strategies and focussing on quick and easy to assess cues. The current study makes use of eye-tracking technology to study the effect of artificially inducing increased cognitive load, on people’s stated and observed search and choice strategies, by looking at the overall time spent viewing a profile, the number of times a certain area is fixated upon and the sections of a profile that catch the eye first. 61 participants between the ages of 18 and 29 provided data and the results of three 2 (Condition: Load vs. No Load) x6(Interest area: basic vs. self-description vs. face vs. favourites vs. personality vs. physical) mixed model ANOVAs, with repeated measures on the second factor, showed an overall nonsignificant effect of cognitive load on choice and search strategy. This is attributed to the fact that participants, in viewing many profiles are all subject to information overload, leading to the suggestion that the method of inducing load may have been ineffective.