"Out of my league": a real-world test of the matching hypothesis

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Jul;37(7):942-54. doi: 10.1177/0146167211409947.


The matching hypothesis predicts that individuals on the dating market will assess their own self-worth and select partners whose social desirability approximately equals their own. It is often treated as well established, despite a dearth of empirical evidence to support it. In the current research, the authors sought to address conceptual and methodological inconsistencies in the extant literature and to examine whether matching occurs as defined by Walster et al. and more generally. Using data collected in the laboratory and from users of a popular online dating site, the authors found evidence for matching based on self-worth, physical attractiveness, and popularity, but to different degrees and not always at the same stage of the dating process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult