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Is Online Dating Making the U.S. More Politically Polarized?

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Could the popularity of online dating be contributing to greater polarization among people in the U.S.?

A new study examined how online advances might be steering people only toward the politically like-minded, defying the old adage that opposites attract.

Researchers looked at “positive mate assortation” where online daters consciously or subconsciously dispose of potential mates (or at least their profiles) based on political leanings.

Titled “The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives,” the study appears in the academic journal Political Behavior and was conducted by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

Susan Brown, co-director of the center, said fast decisions are often made based on a person’s preference for a political party or support for a cause.

“Fast decisions are often made based

on a person’s political party.”

Doing so might mean needlessly disregarding several potential suitors based on assumptions or stereotypes.

This can be potentially harmful, as it discourages the sharing of differing views and opinions.

Researchers said not having a contradictory opinion could mean some couples are more likely to adopt ideological extremes over time.

They could also be more likely to raise children who hold similar ideologically extreme views.

In earlier generations, political leanings may not have revealed themselves as often or as early compared with online romances.

The practice of checking up on a potential date’s profile may be rallying both sides back to their own camp.

According to the findings, “both liberals and conservatives seek to date individuals who are like themselves. This result suggests a pathway by which long-term couples come to share political preferences, which in turn could be fueling the widening ideological gap in the United States.”

Source: Political Behavior. Photo source: reuters.com.

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