Sex Roles, Vol. 42, Nos. 1/2, 2000
Choosing a Mate in Television Dating Games: The
Inﬂuence of Setting, Culture, and Gender
This work examines the inﬂuence of setting (TV dating games vs. question-
naires), culture (America vs. Israel), and gender on mate selection. Ordinary
men and women, ranging in age from 16 to 24 years, took part in this study
as participants in a TV dating game and as questionnaire respondents. A
content analysis of 80 dating games from the United States and Israel yielded
258 topical categories (76 from American shows and 182 from Israeli shows)
used to screen potential mates. Two hundred and four questionnaires yielded
408 topical categories (200 from American questionnaires and 208 from
Israeli questionnaires). Both genders in both countries used physical catego-
ries more often in the TV dating games than in the questionnaires. There
was an effect of culture: Americans—regardless of setting and gender—
employed the physical categories less often than Israelis. There was also a
small effect of gender, showing men more often employ physical categories,
especially in questionnaires. The results attest to the strength of the mass
media capability to reduce gender differences in mate selection, but they do
not strongly support Baumeister’s theory of female erotic plasticity.
In today’s world, one of the primary means of socialization and sources
of knowledge is that of popular culture, including the mass media (see, for
instance, Berger & Luckman, 1967; Hawkins & Pingree, 1982; Gerbner,
1998). Whissell (1996) contends that the examination of gender roles, court-
The author wishes to express his thanks to the Editor, Sue Rosenberg Zalk, for her careful
consideration and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The author dedicates
the article to Kamila Wro
blewska, the signiﬁcant other who signiﬁcantly opened new horizons.
Amir Hetsroni has a doctorate in communication from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He teaches in the Department of Communication at Tel-Aviv University. Mailing Address:
8 Shmaryahu Levin St., Tel-Aviv 64357, Israel, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
0360-0025/00/0100-0083$18.00/0 2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation