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In a survey we did before the speed dating began, participants rated their own intelligence levels, and it turns out that men avoided women whom they perceived to be smarter than themselves.
The same held true for measures of career ambition—a woman could be ambitious, just not more ambitious than the man considering her for a date.
When economists began broadly applying their theories of rational choice-making, love and marriage were among the first areas they colonized.
Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker laid the foundations back in 1973 with his two-part article "A Theory of Marriage." Becker imagined society as an immense cocktail party with rational-minded daters searching for the most desirable partner who would have them.
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His analysis predicted a pattern of "positive assortative matching," where men and women of similar desirability would partner with one another.
While models of dating have proliferated in the years since Becker's pioneering work, we have not progressed very much in testing his theories, or even answering the most basic dating question, for Becker or anyone else: What, exactly, makes someone desirable?
When women were the ones choosing, the more intelligence and ambition the men had, the better.
So, yes, the stereotypes appear to be true: We males are a gender of fragile egos in search of a pretty face and are threatened by brains or success that exceeds our own.
There are, of course, the answers that get regular reinforcement: Men value looks; women value brains, money, and success.