If you’re hoping to find the right age to settle down and get married, perhaps a simple algorithm can help.
When it comes to choosing “the one” mathematicians refer to the problem as optimal stopping, basically you gotta date and reject the first 37 per cent of the expected total of your lifetime of partners in order to have the greatest shot at choosing the best one. After that, you settle on the next partner who is better than your previous companions.
The theory is based on an algorithm dubbed the 37 per cent rule. Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, co-authors of “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions,” suggest that the most optimal decisions you can make are made after screening 37 per cent of your options.
“At the 37 per cent mark, you’ve maximized your chance of selecting the best of the bunch,” wrote Tech Insider columnist Chris Weller. At that point, Weller suggests, you’d likely have gathered enough info to make a sound decision and you wouldn’t have wasted too much time looking at more options than need be.
This theory has its flaws — how do you know how many people you’ll date over the course of a lifetime? Or, what if your first partner was your best potential mate, but you rejected this individual to follow the rule, and no one else measures up?
Weller puts it another way: Let’s say you’re hoping to settle down between the ages of 18 and 40; according to the 37 per cent rule, the optimal age to start earnestly considering your future spouse is right after your 26th birthday.
“(That’s) 37 per cent into the 22-year span,” Weller noted. “Before then, you’ll probably miss out on higher-quality partners, but after that, good options could start to become unavailable, decreasing your chances of finding ‘the one.'”
The rule isn’t impenetrable, but 26 is pretty close to the age that researchers deem to be the right age to get married. A study from the University of Utah found that the likelihood of divorce is lowest when you get hitched between the ages of 28 and 32.
In case you’re wondering, the 37 per cent rule doesn’t solely apply to relationships. The authors believe the rule could be applied to almost anything where you’re given a selection of options within a limited timeframe — finding a new apartment, choosing a parking spot, or even deciding on where to eat.
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