Does volunteering make you more likely to land a date?
Many people wonder if certain traits or hobbies make them more likable, or even more desirable by potential romantic partners. For example, perhaps volunteering your time to help others signals that you’re willing to put others before yourself, or that you’re a “good person” in general, and makes potential romantic partners more interested in you.
It’s an interesting hypothesis. So we put it to the test.
We designed an experiment with 400 people on Amazon Mechanical Turk in which participants were shown a very brief, hypothetical dating profile (below). We chose the name “Taylor” since it’s a unisex name and can indicate a man or a women. We randomized whether each participant saw “volunteering” in the activities section of our hypothetical love-seeker.
Imagine you’re using an online dating app and you see the dating profile below:
Name: Taylor Age: 28 Activities: [Volunteering], art, movies, music
Participants were then asked, "How much would you want to go on a date with this person?" and responded by answering on a 1-7 scale (1 = Not at all, 7 = Very much).
Unfortunately for the volunteers out there, we found no practical difference in desire to date for volunteers (avg. = 4.66) relative to non-volunteers (avg = 4.69), (p = 0.824). We did notice that men and younger participants expressed a higher desire to date than women and younger participants, but this did not interact in any way with our main volunteering manipulation.
A caveat to this study is that we didn’t test whether the effect differs for those who also volunteer. Prior research suggests we like others more similar to ourselves. So if you enjoy volunteering and are trying to land a date with someone who also does, the jury is still out on that one. But if you’re hoping your volunteer efforts will give you a wider advantage on the dating market, you might be disappointed. Instead, we suggest volunteering to help others for its own sake.
We used an independent samples t-test to test for significant differences in perceptions between our two experimental conditions. For significant differences, the difference between the two groups' averages would be large and its corresponding “p-value” would be small. If the p-value is less than 0.05, we consider the difference statistically significant, meaning we'd likely find a similar effect if we ran the study again with this population. To test for significant interactions between the main results and participant demographics, we used OLS regression analyses with interaction terms.