A recent study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis has shed light on a fascinating connection between finding love and discovering a sense of purpose in life. The study, led by Isabella D’Ottone and co-authored by Patrick Hill and Gabrielle Pfund, explores how having a sense of purpose can impact the perception of dating app profiles.
D’Ottone, who conducted the research as an undergraduate in Hill’s lab, aimed to expand on Pfund’s previous findings that a sense of purpose also contributes to maintaining successful long-term relationships. The study involved 119 participants who were asked to rate a series of fabricated dating profiles based on various measures of attractiveness.
The researchers created four categories of “sense of purpose” to develop dating profiles that aligned with each category: prosocial orientation, relationship orientation, financial orientation, and creative orientation. Additionally, they included five control profiles that indicated no sense of purpose.
The results of the study revealed that individuals with profiles reflecting a sense of purpose were consistently rated higher on attractiveness scales compared to profiles without any indication of purpose. D’Ottone stated, “In general, we found people with a higher purpose were considered to be more romantically attractive.”
Interestingly, participants also rated profiles higher when they shared the same purpose orientation. For instance, individuals with a creative purpose were more drawn to profiles that exhibited a focus on creativity and originality. However, it is worth noting that profiles emphasizing financial goals did not receive as high ratings, except among participants who themselves identified as financially motivated.
Hill emphasized that this study highlights the importance of recognizing someone who has direction in life, as it goes beyond physical attraction. He stated, “When it comes to attraction, knowing someone has a direction matters.” D’Ottone further added, “We actually seek out people with a purpose.”
The implications of this research extend beyond personal relationships and could potentially shape the design of dating apps. Hill suggests that incorporating a purpose-driven component into the prompts and ice breakers on dating platforms could enhance users’ experiences and improve their chances of forming meaningful connections.
D’Ottone emphasized that the key to benefiting from this research is not about faking a passion for something but rather finding love unexpectedly while pursuing one’s passions. She believes that while chasing a special someone may lead to a mismatch, “chasing your passions, you might find that person along the way.”