According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, waiting for Mr. Right is wrong. In terms of evolution, and some might say common sense, accepting a mate who is good enough over waiting for the perfect match has some distinct advantages.
An investigative team at Michigan State University utilized a specific computer model to observe, over reportedly thousands of generations of evolution, at risk-taking actions in gambles that had a potentially high payoff, such as choosing a life mate. They learned that “holding out for perfection”, in terms of evolution, can indeed be a “risky behavior.”
Study author Chris Adami, a microbiologist at MSU, stated: “Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate. They could either choose to mate with the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come around. (I)f they chose to wait, they risk never mating.”
Adami and his fellow researchers were curious to determine what conditions might influence people’s decisions in making “once-in-a-lifetime” choices that have “a high future payoff,” such as the opportunity to have children.
Their findings reveal that a human’s strategy for mating is related to the size of the community in which they grew up. People brought up in a small group—less than 150 people—were highly likely to oppose the risk associated with waiting for the perfect mate than people brought up in a larger community.
Adami noted that “an individual (especially in a smaller group) might hold out to find the perfect mate, but run the risk of coming up empty and leaving no progeny.” In a small community, one is at an advantage if he/she settles for a “sure bet” early on.
The overall inclination to “play it safe” could very well originate from the fact that our primitive ancestors lived in small communities. Mates were therefore relatively scarce.
Arend Hintze, an MSU research associate, elaborated: “We found that it is really the group size, not the total population size, which matters in the evolution of risk aversion.” The MSU team did, however, point out that there may be a difference for some people when it comes to risk factors.
Adami concluded: “We do not all evolve to be the same. Evolution creates a diversity in our acceptance of risk, so you see some people who are more likely to take bigger risks than others. We see the same phenomenon in our simulations.”
Waiting For Mr. Right Is Wrong