A Rejection Mind-Set: Choice Overload in Online Dating

Tila M. Pronk*, J.J.A. Denissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The paradox of modern dating is that online platforms provide more opportunities to find a romantic partner than ever before, but people are nevertheless more likely to be single. We hypothesized the existence of a rejection mind-set: The continued access to virtually unlimited potential partners makes people more pessimistic and rejecting. Across three studies, participants immediately started to reject more hypothetical and actual partners when dating online, cumulating on average in a decrease of 27% in chance on acceptance from the first to the last partner option. This was explained by an overall decline in satisfaction with pictures and perceived dating success. For women, the rejection mind-set also resulted in a decreasing likelihood of having romantic matches. Our findings suggest that people gradually “close off” from mating opportunities when online dating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-396
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • choice overload
  • interpersonal relationships
  • mate choice
  • online dating
  • romantic partner selection


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