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‘Mr. Right Now’ Better than Waiting for ‘Mr. Right’

A couple stroll through Beal Garden during an autumn rain.

Evolutionary researchers have determined that settling for “Mr. Okay” is a better evolutionary strategy than waiting for “Mr. Perfect.” A couple stroll through Beal Garden during an autumn rain.

When studying the evolution of risk aversion Michigan State University researchers found that it is in our nature – traced back to the earliest humans – to take the safe bet when stakes are high, such as whether or not we will mate.

“Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate,” said Chris Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and co-author of the paper.

“They could either choose to mate with the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come around,” he said. “If they chose to wait, they risk never mating.”

Adami and his co-author Arend Hintze, MSU research associate, used a computational model to trace risk-taking behaviors through thousands of generations of evolution with digital organisms. These organisms were programmed to make bets in high-payoff gambles, which reflect the life-altering decisions that natural organisms must make, as for example choosing a mate.

Read the full article on Adami’s website.

The research was part of an interdisciplinary collaboration with Ralph Hertwig of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Also contributing to the study was Randal Olson, graduate student, MSU Department of Computer Science and Engineering and BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.

The research was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports Journal.

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