|(Image credit: OkCupid blog)|
This model explains preferences for dating, relationships, sexual activity and even friendships. It's a macro level analysis - individual differences/preferences would always exist. After all, that's what saves the world from being completely deterministic, and people being robotic and completely predictable!
Agent (n). A person in the system
Mate (n). A prospective partner
Score (v). To gain access to, as desired (i.e. for dating/sex/marriage/offspring)
Statement: There exists a definite, indisputable dating economy, or System. Everybody has a market value (or level). This is based primarily on looks (fitness, attractive features, visibly health and radiance) but also on wealth, intelligence, wisdom, degree of self actualisation, and even environment of residence.
Agents typically like to go for a mate ABOVE their own level, and tend to be dismissive about the ones below them. Often agents (esp males) tend to be ambitious and attempt to score mates way above their league. On the other hand, agents' acceptance/tolerance for mates below their level varies, and is an individual difference. Most of the times, agents are aware exactly what their value is. Some (often males) tend to be delusional and overly optimistic about their value, and this is an evolutionary coping strategy. On the other hand, a very select few agents of high value (typically female) aren't aware of their worth, or choose to ignore or rise above physical standards of worth. These are the golden nuggets that represent hope for the average agent and a justification to keep trying outside their league!
A lot of the dating system world on evolutionary principles. Everybody wants an elite mate, one they can have superior offspring with. Of course not all agents are consciously aware of this at all times, but it is hard coded in each agent's automatic behaviour and instincts.. and thus manifests itself anyway. Of course, as designed by nature, males chase females. This may give the impression that females on average possess higher value than males, but this is not true and it evens out in the long run.
Now because everybody desires and attempts to score the top agents, we naturally find the skewed 99%-1% pattern emerging (similar to the well known income disparity). For example, the top 1% (percentile) of females are desired by 99% of males. It's unfortunate but very real - the world is not a level playing field.
This manifests itself in localised circles, like in a school classroom or a group of friends, and is particularly apparent online. Social sites like Facebook/Twitter and dating sites like Tinder/OkCupid are the ideal environments where these patterns naturally emerge and can be systematically observed. I believe the skewness is even more extreme in female agents, perhaps because since ancient times a woman's value has been linked to her physical beauty. For male agents, other factors such as wealth and social stature may offset physical "fit"ness, thus making it harder to assign a concrete value. Research shows female attractiveness is more universal and less subjective than for males.
Insight: "Number of likes per picture is a signifier of popularity, but also perceived attractiveness and market value."
Example 1. A Facebook profile picture of a top 1% female agent would receive, on average, 200+ likes (if it's flattering enough photo), whilst an average female might receive only 10.
Example 2. An OkCupid profile of a "fit" girl (real or fake!) would receive on average 100 messages per day, whilst for an average girl it might be 1 or 2 a day. (I have empirical evidence for this!)
Of course, the 99% population contains gradation too. Within the 99% there are moderately attractive agents, average ones and ugly ones (unfortunately true) that nobody desires. It's a spectrum of desirability that we choose to look as a binary split in this instance.
What does this mean to YOU, an individual with free will; the agent you care about most? Do you know what your market value is yet? Sorry to break it to you, but statistically speaking you are most likely in the 99%. Would you continue to chase the 1%, or try to spot a hidden gem that self identifies as merely average. Bottom line: How much do looks matter to you?.. Can you break free of your evolutionary instincts?
Further Reading: http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/your-looks-and-online-dating/