Better to Accept ‘Mr. Good’ Than Wait for ‘Mr. Perfect’

Better to Accept ‘Mr. Good’ Than Wait for ‘Mr. Perfect’Better to Accept ‘Mr. Good’ Than Wait for ‘Mr. Perfect’

Evolutionary researchers have determined that settling for “Mr. Okay” is a better evolutionary strategy than waiting for “Mr. Perfect.”

When studying the evolution of risk aversion, Michigan State University researchers found that “it is in our nature to take the safer bet when the stakes are high - like whether to carry on our genetic line,” writes The Times Gazette.

This behavior can be traced back to the earliest humans, they said.

“Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate,” Chris Adami said in a press release.

“They could either choose the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come around.” If they choose to wait, they risk waiting forever.

Adami and his co-author Arend Hintze, an MSU research associate, used a computer-based model to trace risk-taking behaviors through thousands of generations of evolution with digital organisms. The organisms were programmed to make bets in high-payoff gambles, reflecting the life-altering decisions that natural organisms must make - like the choice of a mate.

“An individual might hold out to find the perfect mate but runs the risk of coming up empty and leaving no progeny,” Adami said.

 Evolutionary Advantage

“Settling early for the sure bet gives you an evolutionary advantage, if living in a small group.” For those raised in a small group of less than 150 people - these people were more inclined to be risk averse than those who were raised as part of a much larger community.

“We found that it is really the group size, not the total population size, which matters in the evolution of risk aversion,” Hintze said.

However, not everyone develops the same level of aversion to risk.

The study also found that evolution does not instill an optimal way of dealing with risk, but instead allows for a range of less, and sometimes more-risky, behaviors to evolve. “We do not all evolve to be the same,” Adami said.

“Evolution creates diversity in our acceptance of risk, so you see some people who are more likely to take bigger risks than others.”