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>So is there an ideally sized choice set when it comes to dating—one large enough to include variety and depth, yet small enough that you can fairly weigh each prospect’s potential without tripping your brain’s overload switch? [...] Fisher puts people somewhere in the middle of that range. “Once you’ve met nine people who are vaguely in the ballpark, choose one and get to know that person better. If nothing works in that nine, go for another nine,” she says.

The article talks about simultaneous choices (choice overload). A related concept is serial choices and the "when to stop looking for The One" dilemma. That's been modeled as The Secretary Problem[1] which calculates a 37% stopping point. It also has been discussed by several authors: [2] [3] [4] [5]

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_problem

[2]https://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Live-Computer-Science-Deci...

[3]https://youtu.be/OwKj-wgXteo?t=10m12s

[4]https://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Love-Patterns-Ultimate-Eq...

[5]https://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_fry_the_mathematics_of_love...




It is worth noting that the 1/e secretary problem solution is optimal only if your goal is to maximize the probability of choosing the single best secretary.

If your goal is to do expectimax optimization, as decision theory would dictate, you should make a decision after reviewing sqrt(n) applicants. That's assuming a uniform distribution of utility among secretary choices. If the distribution is non-uniform, another heuristic might be better.


I assure you that in dating, utility is not even close to uniformly distributed over secretaries. It is almost the least uniform naturally-occurring distribution I can think of.


It's not the secretary problem, because in the secretary problem you cannot recall a dismissed candidate and you can only evaluate one candidate at a time.


Yes, I had already stated it was not The Secretary Problem. See that I used the phrase "a related concept ... serial ..."




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