bims-chumac Biomed News
on Context effects on human mate choice
Issue of 2020‒11‒29
one paper selected by
Jay Dixit
Storytelling.NYC


  1. Chin J Sociol. 2020 Oct;6(4): 521-546
    Xiao S, Qian Y.
      Prior studies of assortative mating have shown that people tend to marry someone of the same educational level, but why individuals value a mate's education and the process of mate selection itself remain a black box in predominantly quantitative studies. With online dating's growing popularity, research needs to examine how online daters navigate dating markets given educational preferences they hold and "freedom of choice" offered by technologies. This study aims to investigate individuals' educational preferences and how educational preferences shape mate selection processes in online dating. In-depth interviews were conducted with 29 university-educated, heterosexual online daters (13 men, 16 women) in Shanghai. Data were analyzed through a combination of abductive and inductive coding strategies. Results showed that both educational levels and university prestige were primary mate selection criteria in online dating. Both genders considered educational sorting essential for achieving cultural matching, but only men emphasized the importance of spouse's education for their future children's education. Furthermore, guided by their educational preferences, online daters deliberately chose dating platforms and screened dating candidates. We argue that online daters' emphasis on university prestige is rooted in China's hierarchical higher education system, and gendered rationales for educational preferences stem from ingrained gender roles in Chinese families. Seemingly "personal" preferences are therefore shaped by cultural norms and institutional contexts. Moreover, results suggest that online dating may reinforce social closure among China's educational elites.
    Keywords:  China; marriage and family; qualitative methods; sex and gender
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/2057150X20957422