What attracts us?

Survived end-of-term. Just barely....

One of the projects that was presented was a system for matching people, that is, finding people on the system who have similar interests.

I started wondering if this is, indeed, what we really want. Are we looking for syncophats when we are looking for new friends? Of course, we like to share one or two interests with our friends, but not all of them! And it is not clear that I like all other people who are interested in, say, soccer or computers.

I had just seen a great quote the day before when I was looking for a new quote for my home page and found this on Wikiquote: "It contributes greatly towards a man's moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

This I find to be so true - I learn so much more from friends who have other interests than I learn from being around people who are just the same as me. I asked one of the project members for the matching project if he could name one or two things that he and his best friends sitting next to him actually have in common, besides the same thing they are studying. They are all quite different people with quite different interests, yet they are best friends. He could not really find tags that would be unifiable in order to match these three if they had not known each other, but were all entered with all of their interests into the database.

Then Tagesspiegel had this article (which is now not online anymore, but Neon has a similar one, in German) about how women who take the pill tend to choose wrong men because their sense of smell is changed by the pill. Women with babies react to the smell of food, women without are attracted to men who are opposites because this widens the gene pool, so to speak. Women who take the pill simulate a pregnancy, so they are attracted to men for different reasons than they would without, and will not favor dissimilar men.

The old sage "Opposites attract" seems to be not only true for those seeking to procreate, but also for people looking for friends. So maybe matching services should include a little bit of "matches on this, opposite on this other" in their algorithms.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wat are other things that may alter a persons perception in the matter of whom they are attracted to as stated eg. the pill