Woman looking at a tablet with graphics of love hearts and butterflies surrounding the screen

Money can’t buy you love but it does make your profile more attractive when it comes to online dating. New research has revealed that level of education and income are particularly important, especially for men.

Evolutionary psychologist Dr Andrew G Thomas, from Swansea University’s School of Psychology, was involved in the study which examined almost 2 million dating profiles and revealed that being more educated and earning more money increases the amount of interest received.

Dr Thomas said: “We wanted to find out if we could predict how much attention - whether messages, winks or likes – a person's dating profile received based on their level of income and education, factors which together we call competency.”

Using 1.8 million dating profiles from 24 different countries, Dr Thomas and his co-author Dr Peter Jonason, discovered that competency really did increase the amount of attention people received in every country studied.

Their research, just published in online journal Human Nature, showed that while both sexes received a boost in interest when they had a great ability to acquire resources, the increase was almost 2.5 times stronger in men than in women.

He said: “This perhaps reflects the fact that women tend to look for more social status in their romantic partners than men do and again this was a pattern we saw worldwide.”

The study also measured the attention gap between men and women online. Women receive around 7.5 times more attention than men. This sex difference was smaller when comparing men and high-earned educated women but it was still present. Even highly competent men failed to attract more attention than women from low income and poor educational backgrounds.

The attention dynamic is due to more men using dating sites to seek casual sex than women, coupled with ambiguous, low-investment mating contexts.

Dr Thomas said this behaviour results in an environment where women become so inundated with requests from men with short-term interests that engagement becomes one-way.

“Men looking for a long-term partner find their messages lost in a sea of superficial solicitation. Women find themselves having to wade through responses and so hold men to a high standard and judge them as promiscuous until proven committed.”

For male lonely hearts unable to become super-competent or women frustrated with sifting through countless superficial messages there may be a better option for finding happiness closer to home.

Dr Thomas, who also writes about the topic on his blog Darwin Does Dating, said: “My recommendation would be to favour searching for mates in contexts that foster investment from both parties, such as local speed dating events.

"Not only do these require time and effort to attend, but you can rely on all of your senses and adaptations when making your mate choice decisions and have a smaller number of more meaningful interactions.”

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