New research has found no evidence that men have an aversion to a highly educated romantic partner in general. The study, published in the journal Economics of Education Review, indicated that both men and women on Tinder tended to prefer better educated partners — though women were far more selective.
“I am a PhD student and in my doctoral thesis I examine the impact of decisions in education on later labour market outcomes. Somewhat related, in this study I examine the impact of education level on outcomes outside the labour market and more specifically on the dating market,” explained study author Brecht Neyt of Ghent University.
“It fits my doctoral thesis as it sheds light on the non-monetary returns to education. Also from a methodological point of view, it fits the research of my department — and more specifically of my supervisor Professor Stijn Baert — which has done a lot of field experiments on the labour market using false resumes.”
The researchers created 24 fake male and female Tinder profiles located in several cities in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. The profiles were mostly the same, but differed in their education level, which varied from a Bachelor’s degree with three years of higher education to a Master’s degree with five years of higher education.
All of the degrees were related to the field of business and economics.
By analyzing the number of times that the real Tinder users also showed interest (“swiped right”) on the fake profiles (resulting in a “match”), the researchers evaluated the extent to which men and women on Tinder take into account the education level of potential partners.
The study was conducted between January 2018 and March 2018 among Tinder users aged 23 to 27, and resulted in 3,600 Tinder profile evaluations.
The researchers found that higher-educated profiles tended to be more successful. This effect was mostly driven by female Tinder users, who displayed a strong preference for highly educated men.
“Women on Tinder indicated interest in fictitious profiles with a Master’s degree 91.4% more often compared to fictitious profiles with a Bachelor’s degree, almost twice as much,” remarked Neyt.
In comparison, men on Tinder indicated interest in fictitious profiles with a Master’s degree only 8.2% more often compared to fictitious profiles with a Bachelor’s degree.
Of course, there could still be some men who are intimidated by women who are better educated than themselves. But these men appear to be the exception rather than the rule.
“The behaviour on Tinder (and on online dating platforms in general) may have substantial economic consequences. On the one hand, men do not seem to be intimidated by highly educated women, which may do great things for women’s progress in the labour market,” Neyt told PsyPost.
“On the other hand, no evidence was found for preferences for educational homogamy, which may have important consequences for income inequality in a society.”
In other words, Tinder users were not more attracted to those with a similar educational background. They appeared to prefer higher-educated profiles in general, regardless of their own education.
“These findings are in line with previous research from evolutionary psychology that link partner choice to reproductive success,” added Sarah Vandenbulcke, a Master’s student who also collaborated in the study. “Men prefer women who are highly fertile, which is signalled by physical attractiveness. On the other hand, women prefer men who can (financially) provide for potential offspring, which may be signalled by a high education level.”
The study — like all research — includes some limitations.
“In this study, we only examine the very first stage of a relationship, namely showing interest in another person on an online dating platform. It would be interesting to examine whether the preferences identified in this study are also present in later stages of a relationship,” Neyt told PsyPost.
The study, “Are men intimidated by highly educated women? Undercover on Tinder“, was authored by Brecht Neyt, Sarah Vandenbulcke, and Stijn Baert.