Social Matching Theory

How to spot a rich guy

We laugh our asses off at this joke, but why is it funny? It is funny because human beings, like many other higher order animals, have the innate ability to make cognitive comparisons on a subconscious level. The reason it’s humorous is because we see an imbalance in a system and make deductive conclusions with regard to individual conditions. This is the basis of the Social Matching Theory.

Social Matching Theory, in essence, is defined as follows: All things being equal, an individual will tend to be attracted to, and are more likely to pair off with, another individual who is of the same or like degree of physical attractiveness as themself.

Just as an aside, this is a well recognized social psychology theory, not something manufactured by Game theorists. However, in a nutshell it outlines the sexual marketplace dynamic, before adding variables like Game, status, provisioning, etc.

This is a naturally occuring commonality among many specific aculturations and societies. The trick to this theory is of course that ‘All Things’ are rarely equal. However, my point to this isn’t to naively assume that attraction and sexual pairing happen in a vacuum – far from it. It is to illustrate an underlying psycho-biological principle that operates beneath our consciousness that prompts other psychological schemas from an intimately personal (micro) level to the social psychology of an entire (macro) culture.

As I’ve posted in several forum threads with regard to “Why Women Cheat” or why men are so compelled toward sex with archetypically attractive women, the root of this desire is a psychologically evolved  opportunism that is founded on our ability to make and assess these natural comparissons in order to better facilitate our own survival and the survival of our offspring. It has served our species so well over  millennia that this natural comparisson making capacity has become an autonomous and subconscious aspect of experiencing our environment. We understand that eating a large apple is preferable, from a survial standpoint, to eating the small one. We have a tendency to want what our biologies compel us towards and develop idealizations based on what we think would best satisfy these ends.

As I stated, I understand that attraction and intersexual relations do not happen in a vacumm and there are many (generally predictable) variables that influence this, but Social Matching Theory isn’t about the process of attraction or pairing so much as the motivations for selection. I’m often asked about the importance placed on physical appearance, prowess, etc. bearing influence on attraction, and I can speak from my own experience saying yes, it absolutely does. A fat guy is simply not going to attract a Fitness America competitor without some very unique circumstances influencing this attraction. Neither would I support this attraction being based in a qualitative, genuine physical desire for the fat male. It is an imbalance in a system.

All things being equal; socio-economic, intellectual, emotional levels etc. you will have a tendency to attract and be attracted to people of similar physical presence as yourself. This is the root of the psychological schema many men and women apply when they follow the “He/She’s out of my leauge” mentality. They are manifesting this subconscious understanding that the prospects of another person of a more idealized physical presence being attracted to them or pairing with them would be an unlikely match. They self-perceive this imbalance and thus limit themselves to opportunities that have a better likelihood of success in gratifying their need – in this case sex.

Look at the ‘Rich Guy’ picture again. The woman in this imbalance we might presume is a ‘Golddigger’. This too is inspired by an innate understanding of the Social Matching Theory. Why else would an (arguably) attractive woman in comparatively good shape, wearing a thong (indicating sexual availability), be with a morbidly obese male if he didn’t posess some other redeeming variable to inspire the match? We see a picture and laugh, and women make the internalized rationalization that she’s not genuinely interested in the guy, but is ‘in love’ with his provisioning means. Superficial? Perhaps, but it still illustrates this comparative instinct we have, particularly when we know nothing about individual circumstance. The possibility does exists that this woman genuinely loves the guy, or is attracted to him, but this isn’t our first impression. In fact it takes significant, trained, mental effort to consider the possibility because the Social Matching comparison IS our natural default.

Finally, I should add that the Social Matching Theory is also one of the primary foundations upon which AFCism and ONEitis is based. This natural fear of rejection associated with both of these schema stem from a subconscious understanding of this theory. ONEitis in particular can be traced back to this self-perception of imbalance leading to the “I’ll never find a better woman/man than this person” mentality in so much as it represents a limitation of opportunism. In other words, it becomes preferable for a person to stay and accomodate an otherwise intolerable relationship if that person has internalized the understanding that their relationship represents an imbalance in this Social Matching. Abuse endured from the more idealized mate becomes preferable to rejection from anonymous, less idealized sources of intimacy.

At this point you may be wondering what brought this post to the surface. I recently got into a debate with a self-described feminist who entirely rejected notion that a sexual marketplace should even exist in contemporary human society. It wasn’t that she was denying the underlying dynamic of the sexual marketplace, but rather that it was an antiquated and dehumanizing influence in the human condition. Up until this conversation, I’d always taken the idea of a sexual marketplace and sexual market value as applied to individuals as a given. The SMP was a recognized universal framework in which we maneuver – some successfully, others with difficulty. The rejection of this idea, or the desire to alter it sociological, seems absurd to me, even though I would agree that it is a brutal game we play. My counterargument with her was that the SMP is actually more representative of our humanity, in that it’s healthier to accept that the way we evolved as a successful species was due to the harsh reality of the SMP. She wouldn’t hear it.

18 responses to “Social Matching Theory

  • just visiting

    This explains a lot. The downside of assortive mating is that if there is a big enough difference people around you don’t “get” the relationship. Friends and associates are actually put on edge a bit. And yeah, I heard the gold digger remark more than a few times in my marriage, even when I was the one making more money.

  • Good Luck Chuck

    The feminist agenda is successful because their goal of domination is realized under the guise of equality.

    Women want “equality” for anything and everything, they just don’t want to be the ones to have to pay for it. The entire feminist/liberal agenda hinges on the idea that life should be fair to everyone. Of course what they fail to account for is that “fairness” comes with a price. What would be the price of a non-existent sexual marketplace? I would venture to guess that society would implode within a couple of generations.

    That’s what you get when you let women run shit. No wonder our society is so fucked up.

  • Good Luck Chuck

    Also, this is why it is great to be a man, at least after the age of 30. We have a lot more control over our SMV. We can work to increase our wealth/status/power and social dominance throughout our entire life, theoretically making us viable in the sexual market until the day we die (Hef, anyone?) but a woman’s looks compromise the majority of her value, and we all know there is only so much makeup and plastic surgery can do.

    Biology is a bitch, ladies. Make sure you leverage it wisely.

  • (R)-Evolutionary

    Feminists who reject the idea of the SMP are typically uncomfortable with the sociological ramifications of it, but eve worse, are unfamiliar with the biological necessity of the SMP. The ‘brutal’ machinations of the SMP are simply the required biomechanics of maintaining integrity of the gene pool.

    People like your feminist friend are likely to choose their beliefs because they are more comforting, more gentle on their psyche than the truth. This is an essential characteristic of the blue-pill takers–the truth of biology is just too hard to swallow.

  • xsplat

    Several times I’ve had girlfriends who were strikingly out of my league. Their girlfriends and even family will question her as to why stay with me when she can obviously do so much better. My current girl also gets that question a lot.

    Yesterday my ex girlfriend and her date visited for dinner and after dinner conversation. He’s a handsome 24 year old electrical engineer. My girl later remarked to me that she even though he’s more handsome, she didn’t find his face “interesting”, and said that there is something about my face that is more attractive. I’m balding and have a noticeably below average attractiveness face, and am mid forties to her age of 22.

    This makes me think of two things. The first is that familiarity with your face leads a woman to judge you as more attractive. Studies have shown that you can grow on a girl. Secondly body language and facial movements convey charisma. You convey being “interesting”.

    If I’d only ever had a few girls out of my league, or if it was difficult to hold onto them, I’d agree that a wide SMP disparity is a fluke. But it’s happened many times, and the girls can fall hard and stay fallen. This one is always trying get pregnant and marry me. Much against the advice of her friends and much to the surprise of any stranger who might happen to meet her.

    So I have to conclude that SMP disparities are the common rule. Breaking it is rare. But there is a way to break that rule – breaking it isn’t just a fluke. And it’s not just about money – I’ve dated most of the shockingly hotter girls when broke.

    I’m guessing it has to do with selecting the girls who can be seduced, then seducing with above average skill, then being able to get them to fall in love, then being able to maintain attraction. A skill set can be used to break the rules.

  • just visiting

    I’m guessing it has to do with selecting the girls who can be seduced, then seducing with above average skill, then being able to get them to fall in love, then being able to maintain attraction. A skill set can be used to break the rules.


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  • Just thinking out loud

    I don’t like this. How does this help me with girls? I would rather be delusional and believe that I have my chances with someone “out of my league” than believe this “harsh truth”, because if I do, I stop approaching them, and then the odds reduce to zero immediately and for good. Also, let’s not forget that although this may be very true in a society of 100 individuals, there IS in our (vast) world, people who have evolved – been educated – with other rules of the game. Physical attractiveness is only ever PERCEIVED, and the very criteria, as we know, is a variable in itself.

  • hiddenangles

    You’re right.

    And it won’t change whatsoever.

  • Tom

    ” My counterargument with her was that the SMP is actually more representative of our humanity, in that it’s healthier to accept that the way we evolved as a successful species was due to the harsh reality of the SMP. She wouldn’t hear it.”

    You’re lucky she didn’t scratch your eyes out or seeing you outside on the street run you over with her car. Don’t think she might not still do either. Ironically feminists are the most unreasonable females out there. Maybe not so ironically.

  • Oz

    I don’t think you “aculturations”. That term means the adaptive process that occurs when a group or individuals find themselves in another culture. Think immigrant, or migrating populations that settle in a new area. What they experience is “aculturation”.

  • Luisa

    Oh but then they both are with one another out of interest. She prolly wouldn’t want him without the money, he prolly wouldn’t want her without the body. They both want to use their best asset to obtain what they want and could probably not get otherwise (in her case, money, in his case, a hot woman). He wouldn’t have access to that hot chick if he was poor, she would not have access to that rich man if she was ugly.

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