“This can drive people concentrate their investment choices into a few high-risk, high-return options,” said lead study author Joshua Ackerman from University of Michigan in the US.
“This is true even when the decisions people are making are not explicitly relevant to romantic outcomes,” Ackerman added in the paper, published in a journal of Psychological Science.
Research has shown that people who face uncertain outcomes often diversify their choices as a strategy for mitigating risk — if one investment or option falls through, they still have other investments or options to fall back on.
Ackerman and colleagues speculated that diversification may not be the optimal strategy if romantic success depends on passing above a certain threshold when it comes to resources, status or attractiveness.
Choosing high-risk, high-reward strategies, even in domains unrelated to romance, could help an individual surpass the threshold and stand out from his or her competitors.
The researchers analysed series of studies in which they manipulated the perceived odds of romantic success by presenting participants with information about the ratio of women to men in their area.
Then participants were asked to imagine that they were buying scratch-off lottery tickets and were told to choose which option they would purchase: one $10 ticket for a $10,000 prize or 10 $1 tickets for $1000 each.