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Working with two psychologists, Hunt looked at 167 couples who participated in a long-term study at Northwestern.They asked each couple how long they’d known each other before they started dating, and they recruited people to watch videotapes of the couples and rate each individual’s physical attractiveness.The breakthrough came when the researchers found that three multiracial groups were favored more than anyone else, something they referred to as the “bonus effect.” These three groups were Asian-white women, who were viewed more favorably than all other groups by white and Asian men, and Asian-white and Hispanic-white men, who were given “bonus” status by Asian and Hispanic women.The study’s authors could not definitively say why these three partly white multiracial groups were particularly favored, but Celeste Vaughan Curington, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and lead author of the study, speculated that “daters may be influenced by the popular media’s representation of mixed-race people as ‘exotic’ and sexually appealing.” This “bonus effect,” which the researchers said was “truly unheard of in the existing sociological literature,” goes against the long established “one drop rule” amongst American sociologists.At the start of the semester, they asked students in small classes to rate the desirability of their classmates.(Desirability could incorporate non-physical attributes as well as good looks.) When the researchers looked at the ratings, they found that most students agreed on who was hot and who was not.If that’s the case, it doesn’t seem like beauty is in the eye of the beholder for online daters.
“People have different tastes.” In this case, the data is clear that men’s preferences are much more homogenous than women’s.Over time, personality had more of an impact on how desirable someone was. Their rankings reflected their personal preferences about the non-physical attributes of the other people in the class.Where one classmate might find a student’s earnestness in class endearing, another might dislike it.The swipe-left, swipe-right dating app Tinder, for example, is known for making matches based on an internal attractiveness ranking it calculates for each of its users.As Sean Rad, the founder of Tinder, , Tinder calls each user’s ranking his or her “elo score.” The term comes from the world of professional chess, where elo scores are used to rank players.