The Subconscious Factor That Can Affect Who You Date

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You may be aware of certain biases you have when choosing friends or lovers. Some are probably totally normal and kosher—not being into someone who isn’t an animal person, for instance, if you’re a dog lover—but other preferences are more subtle. One such bias is that people are more attracted to and likely to reach out to dating prospects with similar political views, according to a new study by researchers at Yale and Stanford.

In a lab study of 1,000 participants, the researchers found that people were significantly more interested in the profiles of romantic prospects who expressed similar political ideologies. They also tested whether people would actively reach out to dating prospects who shared their political views, and found that people were 10 percent likelier to pair up (send reciprocal messages) if those views were similar to their own.

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These findings aren’t especially shocking, and are related to a phenomenon called homophily, in which people are drawn to make social connections with others who are similar to themselves. When it comes to political preferences, in particular, it can actually be healthy and productive to take those into consideration when dating, especially if there are issues or beliefs you’re especially passionate about that could lead to major conflict with a partner who doesn’t feel the same way.

Still, after an election that laid bare the deep divisions among Americans, one thing’s for sure: We haven’t been listening well enough to those whose beliefs differ from our own. While a relationship may not be the ideal circumstance to rectify clashing politics, you shouldn’t necessarily nix romantic prospects just because their beliefs don’t mirror your own. In fact, plenty of couples do have different political perspectives and it can lead to healthy, stimulating debate. Either way, just know that your instinct might be to prefer someone with political views like your own, so it’s smart to keep an open mind.

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