Discussing political views seems to be a no-no in new relationships, according to a study showing that singles are more likely to admit they are overweight than to divulge their political leanings on their online dating profiles.
"Because we know that long-term mates are more politically similar than random attachment might predict, we were interested to see how people seeking a mate end up with people who share their political values," study researcher and political scientist Rose McDermott of Brown University said in a statement. "This is particularly important because political ideology appears to be in part heritable, and so mates pass their ideology on to their children."
The researchers randomly sampled 2,944 profiles from a popular Internet dating site and analyzed whether people indicated an interest in politics or selected a specific political view. Their findings showed that only 14 percent of online daters included "political interests" in their profile, and of those who listed politics as an interest, 57 percent reported that their politics were "middle of the road."
Politics was so unpopular that it ranked 23 out of 27 among the provided interest categories — just below "video games" and above "business networking" and "book club."
When asked about their body type, a larger proportion of participants voluntarily described themselves as either "heavy set," having "a few extra pounds," or "stocky" than listed "politics" as one of their interests.
The study also found that older daters and those with higher education levels were more willing to express a definitive political preference, such as "very liberal" or "ultraconservative." Daters with a higher income and higher participation in civil engagements, such as volunteerism, also were more likely to list politics as an interest.
The researchers note that the apparent unwillingness to reveal one's political preferences when dating is intriguing because previous studies have shown that spouses share political views more than almost any other trait other than religious affiliation.
"At some point in the dating process, we somehow filter out people who do not share our political preferences," said study researcher Casey A. Klofstad of the University of Miami. "Our best guess is that in the short run, most people want to cast as wide a net as possible when dating. However, in the long run, shared political preferences become a critical foundation of lasting relationships, despite the fact that many Americans are not even interested in politics."
The study was recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.