Adult singles better off unattractive than only mildly attractivePosted: June 20, 2012 | |
Consider these odds for a single play:
- 95% chance to win $50 and 5% chance to lose $80.
- 80% chance to win $100 and 20% chance to lose $80.
Most people are risk averse in these situations therefore you’d expect option 1 to win out even though option 2 has a higher expected return ($64 vs. $43.50). Now lets consider a third option.
- 70% chance to win $200 and 30% chance to lose $80.
In order to bribe risk-averse humans into accepting a greater probability of losing $80 the upside offered must be sufficiently large. Option 3 is essentially option 2 plus bribery. Option 3 with an expected return of $116 could overcome its higher probability of loses by offering a very tempting $200 pay day to the naturally loss averse. Depending on the risk profile of subjects, 1 or 3 may be favored. This makes option 2 a quite lonely middle ground although it is logically the most preferable option to a real person for whom an $80 loss would be a significant albeit a non-life changing event.
What does this all have to do with being kind of attractive and single? Okay lets consider the winnings in each option as a measure of attractiveness.
- Option 3 ($200 prize) ——> Very attractive
- Option 2 ($100 prize) ——> Above average attractive
- Option 1 ($50 prize) ——> Average to below average attractive.
Just like in the odds offered above the worst possible position to be in as a member of the coalition of the single is position 2. Although you offer a higher expected return than position 1 and a lesser probability of loses than position 3 (consider loses to be the probability of rejection or unforeseen negative surprises), the market for you is quite depressed. This effect is most pronounced in the late 20s and early 30s (L20E30) singles demo which I have written about in the past and will continue to write about because I find their predicament a very fascinating muse.
Alright lets plod on.
What is unique about the L20E30 group is that they are at a crucial stage in the human pair bonding progression when they’re just old enough for most of the good ones to be identified and taken off the market but not quite old enough to have necessarily given up on the quest to find a partner and start a family and certainly not old enough to be on their second lap around the marriage and family circuit.
The top and bottom end (options 3 & 1) of the singles market that emerges after the early and mid 20s game of musical chairs appeal to established constituencies. The penthouse slices or the very attractive L20E30 singles attract the bold and beautiful, lottery ticket buyers, dreamy gold prospectors, creeps and the like. The below average L20E30s or the bottom floor slice of the market attract the timid and unattractive, bargain hunters, illogically risk averse and naturally creeps.
What is unaccounted for is the constituency composed of the non-creepy, reasonable and relatively logical who have reasonably assessed the high and low ends of the available pool of singles and find them either froth with risk (option 3 or very attractive) or just not good quite attractive enough (option 1). These level headed shoppers are able to appreciate the higher expected return of option 2 over 1 and the smaller probability of loses offered by option 2 over 3.
Here’s the meat of theory: The same sanity that predisposes this group to linger on option 2 or the just above average attractive singles group precludes them from actually choosing them. The reason for this is a unique information asymmetry problem associated with occupying the dangerous middle to upper floors of the L20E30 singles high rise. The two key pieces of information unavailable to the outsider in this case are:
- Current relationship status
- The dimensions and weight of` baggage in tow.
Reasonable prospectors who lack the core competencies of creeps are keenly aware that they’re late arriving to the party therefore there should be a reasonable expectation of an accepted bid given the apparent relative attractiveness of the singles in this middle group. In the event that there are no bidders, one can only reasonably assume that since enough time has been afforded for discovery a plausible explanation for lack of suitors could be product damage, lemons perhaps, so stay away. Both the accepted bid and no bid scenarios inspire inaction.
How is this any different for the very attractive you ask? Well like option 3 above suggests if the potential reward is sufficiently high our appetite for risk rises accordingly. In this situation the greater attractiveness encourages engagement at the risk of hitting on a girl who is quarter to engagement or halfway batshizz crazy. Moderately attractive singles just don’t offer enough temptation to overcome the risks.
This is all very similar to a theory first presented by economist George Akerlof in “The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism” of which he later shared a Nobel prize for. Simply put the theory suggests that in markets where there is information asymmetry such as the used car market where the sellers know far more about the product than the buyers or the health insurance market where information is concentrated on the side of the buyers, market forces may conspire to discourage owners of good products from bringing them to market.
This happens because the side of the market on the wrong end of the information disparity will either leave the market in fear of getting ripped off or drive the prices to an extreme that reflects a market where every product is a lemon. Under these conditions the very top end of the market would command enough confidence to attract a fair price, the lemons would be all too happy to settle for lemon prices and the slightly above average would either have to trade at a significant discount to objective worth or not at all. The potential losses due to participation in such a market increase as the product quality departs from the average lemon without approaching premium status.
In conclusion as an adult straddles 30 in singlehood its surprisingly beneficial to be decidedly below average attractive which reduces the information problem by providing a plausible thesis for the relationship status and inspire interest from bargain hunters and the like or be strikingly attractive in which case information asymmetry be damned.
I devised this theory while I was at the gym today looking a girl who was sufficiently attractive to get my attention but not enough to risk making a fool of myself given that I figured she looked just good enough to justify some expectation of a boyfriend somewhere. As I observed my internal deliberations and risk analysis of each course of action I realized that her biggest fault was being around my age and only kind of attractive.