The researchers found evidence that people are more inclined to seek dating partners who have similar political characteristics as them but that other factors, such as religion or race, are more significant in determining relationships than political similarity.
Huber, a resident fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Center for the Study of American Politics, recently spoke to Yale News about his work. Your article covers two studies, the first of which was based on a survey experiment. In the first study we took real photos and profiles from online dating sites and randomly manipulated the religion and politics expressed in those profiles.
From a research perspective, this study is interesting because, while marriages on average are quite alike in a lot of characteristics, we often don’t know why they’re alike.
If two white, evangelical Protestants marry, they may be both Republican, but they may not have started dating because they are Republicans, they may have started dating because they have a shared ethnic and religious orientation.
The term for this is “homophily.” It’s the Greek word roughly for “love of self.” It’s a widespread phenomenon that people are attracted to and find beauty in things that are like them: height, skin color, religion, all sorts of things.
It’s an unusual feature of these data: You can look at relationships as they are forming.That effect is substantial but not overwhelmingly large. That effect is actually quite a bit larger than the political effect, which is still reasonably significant.People seem to generally prefer, and rate as more attractive dating partners, those who share their political characteristics. Interestingly, disinterest in politics has an effect.What do you consider the most important implications of your findings?For one, researchers have known that marriages and dating appear to be more homogenous than you would expect by chance, and our work shows that it doesn’t appear that this homogeneity arises only from people selecting on politics.As with the first study, politics is by no means the biggest factor in how we select partners. The effect of political orientation is not on the same level as those other things, but it is still a factor.