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Evolution Shows Waiting for 'Mr. Right' Isn't Wise After All

Feb 09, 2015 01:31 PM EST

A new evolutionary study shows that waiting for "Mr. Right" isn't so wise after all.

Young girls and women (and men too) are filled with the fantasy that "the one" is out there, and that they're worth waiting for. However, Michigan State University (MSU) researchers found that it's in our nature - traced back to the earliest humans - to actually play it safe when stakes are high. That means settling for "Mr. Okay" is in our best interest rather than hoping for someone better to come along.

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

"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 added. "If they chose to wait, they risk never mating."

To reach this conclusion, Adami and his colleagues used a computer model to trace risk-taking behaviors back thousands of generations of evolution with digital organisms. These organisms were programmed to make bets in high-payoff situations, which reflect the life-altering decisions that humans must make when choosing who to mate with for the rest of their lives.

"An individual might hold out to find the perfect mate but run the risk of coming up empty and leaving no progeny," Adami said. "Settling early for the sure bet gives you an evolutionary advantage, if living in a small group."

The researchers found that certain factors such as group size affect our decisions, meaning if you are raised in a small group - 150 people or less - you are more likely to avoid unnecessary risks compared to those who were part of a larger community.

However, not everyone develops the same level of aversion to risk. As we know, not everyone evolves the same way. The study shows that evolution doesn't prefer one single way of dealing with risk, but instead sometimes allow a range of more risky behaviors too.

So if you're a gambler, you better hope that if and when Mr. Right comes along he's as perfect as he seems.

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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