Political Excitement

Three days into Fall and the campaigning for next election for the US President is now well under way. Many of us will be hunkering down for a long winter. The Web will keep us well informed, presumably, with a cacophony of Tweets. The parties, candidates and a plethora of ragtag organizations will be wooing us for votes and cash – the political dating web-sites will be open for business.

Many relationships start from Internet dating sites these days. With almost $1bn in revenue, it is a lucrative business sector. It is also a useful sector for social science geeks who are interested in data mining. Why? Because the profiles that daters have submitted are useful fodder for the number crunchers with the statistics programs.

Klofstad et al have started to wonder if daters have politics in mind in the mate–attraction process (1). They start by noting that the idea that our behavior and attitude is no longer considered to be just due to our environment and how we were brought up, but that genetic profile has a part to play in terms of predisposition. (Of course, a DNA profile won’t tell us who will vote Republican or Democrat, or at least I haven’t heard that to be the case.) Hence their question ‘Do we see our prospective mates through political eyes?’

They did their data mining and number crunching as best they could. Their major problem was that daters weren’t eager to flaunt the color of their political underwear. They were then forced to go the well-trodden route of assuming that the correlation between education and civic engagement reflect political views, and this showed that their initial assumption, that mate selection was actually along political lines was correct, even though it did not initially appear that way.

Mmmm… I’m sure the computers were churning hard and the statistical parameters looked good, but perhaps the dater’s political views are the result of all of their other characteristics and it is these that are matching. The vision their suggestion conjures up for me is one of heated political debates going on in the subdued lights of the boudoir as the culmination of a hot date.

  1. C.A.Klofstad, R.McDermot and P.K.Hatemi, J. Evolution Anim. Behav., (2011), doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2011.06.002

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