Decision time

written by Terry Robson


The research shows that selection of a life partner is one that we make with a careful balance of intellectual consideration of the pros and cons and intuitive consideration of deep soul motives…if you believe that I have shares in the first colony on Mars that you may also want to invest in. In reality selecting a mate bears too many similarities to gambling for comfort; we attempt to predict future outcomes using various signs and portents and in the end some are lucky where others are not. Even if your romantic tendencies are rebelling at such a mundane description of the search for love, you must still admit that there is an inherent element of risk in choosing a life partner. In fact, new research has shown that attitude to risk as well as a few other elements are good indicators of how you go about making that make choice.

The new research comes from Michigan State University and involved researchers using a computational algorithm to track risk taking behaviours through thousands of virtual generations in the evolution of a digital organism. The organisms were programmed to make bets in high pay-off decision situations that reflect real-life decisions that can change your life; decisions like choosing a partner / mate.

When it comes to deciding whether your current partner at any given time is going to be your partner for life there are a few things that come into play. If you aren’t sure then you could leave them and look around but the risk then is that you may not find that “perfect partner” and end up alone and worse, in evolutionary terms, never procreating. If on the other hand you decide to settle early then you are reducing your risk of not having children.

Whatever you decide you are balancing risk and what the researchers found was that if people are raised in a small group of 150 or less then they are much more risk averse, and therefore much less likely to wait around for “Mr or Miss Right” than people raised in larger communities.

Statistics, digital models, and regression analyses don’t always reveal the truth but this time the findings chime nicely with common sense and the wisdom of pop culture; if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with, and instead of looking for “Mr or Miss Right” maybe you should just look for “Mr or Miss Right Now”.

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Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the editor-in-chief of WellBeing.