People often avoid advertising their political leanings while attempting to attract a potential mate, but these political interests become a crucial factor in pursuing long-term relationships, says a new study.
The study revealed that singles are more likely to admit they are overweight on their online dating profiles than to say they are politically liberal or conservative.
"Because we know that long-term mates are more politically similar than random attachment might predict, we were interested to see how people seeking a mate end up with people who share their political values," said Rose McDermott of Brown University, co-author of the study.
"This is particularly important because political ideology appears to be in part heritable, and so mates pass their ideology on to their children," he explained.
For their study, the research team randomly sampled 2,944 profiles from a popular Internet dating site and examined whether people indicated an interest in politics or selected a specific political view.
They found that only 14 percent of online daters included "political interests" in their profile, which ranked 23rd out of 27 interest categories - just below "video games" and above "business networking" and "book club."
"Few individuals were willing to express a definitive political preference. Of those that listed politics as an interest, the majority - 57 percent - reported that their politics were 'middle of the road,'" the authors wrote.
Women were 8 percent less likely to report being interested in politics.
Older daters and those with higher education levels were more willing to express a definitive political preference, such as "very liberal" or "ultra conservative."
The researchers note that the apparent reluctance to reveal political preferences is interesting because previous studies have shown that spouses share political views more than almost any other trait, with religious affiliation being the exception.
"At some point in the dating process we somehow filter out people who do not share our political preferences," said Casey A. Klofstad of the University of Miami, also co-author of the study.
"Our best guess is that in the short-run most people want to cast as wide a net as possible when dating. However, in the long-run shared political preferences become a critical foundation of lasting relationships, despite the fact that many Americans are not even interested in politics," Klofstad stated.
The findings are published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour.