Want a good husband? Play hard to get   
 G.S. MUDUR                

New Delhi, Jan. 17: Long courtships are best — for a woman. Scientists have used the mathematics of game theory to show that a woman who plays hard to get has a better chance of finding a good mate.

In a study that analysed the mating game through a set of mathematical equations, British researchers have rediscovered what they concede is folk wisdom: a woman is best advised not to mate on her first date.

Robert Seymour at the University College, London, and Peter Souzou at the University of Warwick have shown that protracted courtships allow males to signal their suitability as good partners and allow females the opportunity to screen out unsuitable males. The findings of the study, which has modelled courtship as a waiting game in time, appear this month in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

The researchers set out to explore why courtship is sometimes a long process in some species of birds and in humans. They used tools of game theory — a branch of applied mathematics that seeks to explain behaviour in strategic situations.

“Human courtship can involve a sequence of dinners or outings lasting months or even years,” said Seymour. “There is a significant cost of time to both the sexes which could be spent on other productive activities.”

“Longer courtship is a way for a female to acquire information about the male,” he said.

The model assumes that the male is “good” or “bad” depending on whether he is willing to care for the young after mating. The female gets a positive payoff from mating if the male is good, but a negative payoff if the male is bad.

“We find that a good male never quits, but a bad male quits at some point,” Souzou, a theoretical biologist told The Telegraph in an interview. “The assumption is that a good male values mating more than a bad male — so he waits longer.”

The willingness of a good male to court longer emerges as a consequence of certain assumptions about payoffs in the mating game and what mathematicians describe as the Nash Equilibrium — a concept in which the players pursue the best possible strategy knowing the strategies of other players.

“In our context, when a female's strategy is to wait, the best strategy for a good male is to wait indefinitely, while that for a bad male is to quit at some point in time. And given a situation where a good male waits indefinitely and a bad male quits, the best female strategy is to wait for some finite time,” Souzou said.

The duration of courtship carries information about the male to the female. “Bad males give up at some random time if the female has not by then mated with them, but good males are more persistent and do not give up,” Souzou said.

The researchers have cautioned that human decisions are complex and that “behavioural flexibility is vastly greater than assumed in a simple model.”

People may use a number of signals to assess complex features of potential mating partners over time. In addition, human courtship also takes place within a complex social environment.

Nevertheless, the researchers said, their model does explain the phenomenon of long courtships — and the conventional wisdom: that a woman shouldn’t give in to the charms of a man on a first date.


The Mathematics Of First Date Sex

According to a mathematical model created by Prof. Robert Seymour and his team from the University College London, “By delaying mating, the female is able to reduce the chance that she will mate with a bad male.” Basically Prof. Seymour is telling you that you have to make a man wait for sex to prove his worth. This study was less interested in studs and more interested in helping women find something called a “good male.”  Using other Discovery Channel-esque language like “long courtship” and “mating,” the researchers have made even sex seem unsexy.  From charts, graphs and funding, Seymour has concluded that, “Long courtship is a price paid for increasing the chance that mating, if it occurs, will be a harmonious match which benefits both sexes. This may help to explain the commonly held belief that a woman is best advised not to sleep with a man on a first date.”  So, let me get this equation straight. W (courtship length) times X (doin’ it), equals Y (compatibility)?!

Seriously, life is too short to spend your career calculating and plotting why you shouldn’t do something you want to. Or you can go even further and take Dr. Peter Sozou’s advice, “She cannot eliminate this risk completely unless she decides never to mate.” Never?!  If math had its way, we wouldn’t go horizontal and multiply. Well, no wonder I flunked those classes in school.  Now, I’m an adult and so are you.  Let’s do what we want, who we want, and when we want, no addition necessary.


 New Study Shows Waiting For Sex The Right Move

January 18, 2009

England (ChattahBox) – A new study done by the University College, London, has shown that women who wait to have sex with their partners are more likely to find a reliable, long term relationship. 

The research, headed by Robert Seymour, used a mathematical formula to show that men who are willing to wait will make much more steady partners, while those who are only in it for the sex, are less likely to stay faithful in a relationship, and will give up and move on to the next conquest when a woman refuses to immediately give it up.

“Long courtship is a price paid for increasing the chance that mating, if it occurs, will be a harmonious match which benefits both sexes,” Seymour explained. “This may help to explain the commonly held belief that a woman is best advised not to sleep with a man on a first date.”

While the tradition of waiting until after the first few dates to sleep with a new man is one that has been closely held by many women for generations, not everyone find the strategy to be as effective as some might think, and warn that any encounter will run some risk, whether you sleep together immediately, or not.

“Women cannot eliminate this risk completely unless she decides never to mate,” Dr Peter Sozou of Warwick Medical School commented on the study.


Game Theory Explains Why You Can’t Hurry Love

ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2009) — Scientists have developed a mathematical model of the mating game to help explain why courtship is often protracted. The study, by researchers at UCL (University College London), University of Warwick and LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science), shows that extended courtship enables a male to signal his suitability to a female and enables the female to screen out the male if he is unsuitable as a mate.

The research uses game theory to analyse how males and females behave strategically towards each other in the mating game. The mathematical model considers a male and a female in a courtship encounter of unspecified duration, with the game ending when one or other party quits or the female accepts the male as a mate. The model assumes that the male is either a ‘‘good’’ or a ‘‘bad’’ type from the female’s point of view, according to his condition or willingness to care for the young after mating. The female gets a positive payoff from mating if the male is a ‘‘good’’ male but a negative payoff if he is ‘‘bad’’, so it is in her interest to gain information about the male’s type with the aim of avoiding mating with a “bad” male. In contrast, a male gets a positive payoff from mating with any female, though his payoff is higher if he is “good” than if he is “bad”.

The study looks for evolutionarily stable equilibrium behaviours, in which females are doing as well as they can against male behaviour and males are doing as well as they can against female behaviour. It shows that extended courtship can take place, with a good male being willing to court for longer than a bad male and the female delaying mating. In this way the duration of a male’s courtship effort carries information about his type. By delaying mating, the female is able to make some use of this information to achieve a degree of screening. Because bad males have a greater tendency to quit the courtship game early, as time goes on and the male has not quit it becomes increasingly probable that he is a “good” male.

Professor Robert Seymour, UCL Mathematics, says: “Courtship in a number of animal species occurs over an extended period of time. Human courtship, for example, can involve a sequence of dinners, theatre trips and other outings lasting months or even years. One partner - often the male - may pay the greater part of the financial cost, but to both sexes there is a significant cost of time which could be spent on other productive activities. Why don't people and other animals speed things up to reduce these costs? The answer seems to be that longer courtship is a way for the female to acquire information about the male.

“By delaying mating, the female is able to reduce the chance that she will mate with a bad male. A male's willingness to court for a long time is a signal that he is likely to be a good male. Long courtship is a price paid for increasing the chance that mating, if it occurs, will be a harmonious match which benefits both sexes. This may help to explain the commonly held belief that a woman is best advised not to sleep with a man on a first date.”

Dr Peter Sozou, Warwick Medical School and LSE Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, says: “From a female's point of view, males are not all equal. A female would like to mate with a good male, but cannot tell a male's type from his appearance alone. The strategic problem the female faces is how to screen out bad males, and this is where long courtship comes into play. A male is assumed to always want to mate with a female, but a good male is more willing to pay the cost of a long courtship in order to claim the prize of mating. This leads to an outcome in which the female is not willing to mate immediately, but instead requires the male to wait for an indeterminate time before she agrees to mate with him. During this time, the male may give up on courting the female.

“Bad males give up at some random time if the female has not by then mated with them, but good males are more persistent and do not give up. The female’s strategy is a compromise - a trade-off between on the one hand the greater risk of mating with a bad male if she mates too quickly, and on the other hand the time cost of delay. Under this compromise there remains some risk that she will mate with the wrong type of male. She cannot eliminate this risk completely unless she decides never to mate.”


Hard playing women may get good mate

London (PTI): Men often crib that most women like to play hard to get. Now, researchers claim to have found the possible reason -- it raises a female's chances of finding a "good" mate.

A new study, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, has revealed that women who prolong mating courtship and refuse to have sex with a male partner on their first date can end up in making a successful match. Lead researcher professor Robert Seymour of University College London said: "Longer courtship is a way for the female to acquire information about the male.

"By delaying mating, the female is able to reduce the chance that she will mate with a bad male. A male's willingness to court for a long time is a signal that he is likely to be a good male.

"Long courtship is a price paid for increasing the chance that mating, if it occurs, will be a harmonious match which benefits both sexes. This helps to explain the commonly held belief that a woman is best advised not to sleep with a man on a first date."

In fact, the researchers have based their findings on an analysis of a mathematical model, which showed that "more reliable men were willing to wait longer before having sex for the first time", The Daily Telegraph reported. On the contrary, less suitable men were not as likely to continue dating, the study found.

However, co-researcher Peter Sozou of Warwick Medical School has warned the strategy was not foolproof. "The problem the female faces is how to screen out bad males, and this is where long courtship comes into play. "A male is assumed to always want to mate with a female, but a good male is more willing to pay the cost of a long courtship in order to claim the prize of mating.

"The female's strategy is a compromise -- a trade-off between on the one hand the greater risk of mating with a bad male if she mates too quickly, and on the other hand the time cost of delay.

"Under this compromise there remains some risk she will mate with the wrong type of male. She can't eliminate this risk completely unless she decides never to mate."

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