18/01/18

Finding the right mate is no cakewalk — but is it even mathematically likely? In a charming talk, mathematician Hannah Fry shows patterns in how we look for love, and gives her top three tips (verified by math!) for finding that special someone.

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Watch

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Glossary

  • get on well with somebody – to have a good relationship
  • bump into someone – to meet accidentally
  • persuade – cause (someone) to believe something
  • to reckon – be of the opinion
  • humiliate – make (someone) feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and pride
  • suitor – a man who pursues a relationship with a particular woman, with a view to marriage
  • threshold – a level, rate, or amount at which something comes into effect

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. Read them before watching and pause the video when you you’ve heard the answer.

  • What does she say about mathematicians’ skills at finding a mate?
  • How much chance does Peter have finding a girlfriend?
  • What is maths about?
  • What kind of people are more likely to get attention from others on online dating websites?
  • How to maximize your chances of finding the right partner? What are the risks of following the maths?
  • What can negativity in a relationship lead to? What is the negativity threshold?
  • What kind of married couples have the lowest likelihood of getting divorced?

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Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

[. . .] the really important term in this equation is the influence that people have ________ one another, and ________ particular, something called “the negativity threshold.” Now, the negativity threshold, you can think ________ as how annoying the husband can be before the wife starts to get really pissed ________, and vice ________. Now, I always thought that good marriages were about compromise and understanding and allowing the person ________ have the space to be themselves. So I would ________ thought that perhaps the most successful relationships were ones where ________ was a really high negativity threshold. Where couples let things go and only brought things up if they really were a big deal.But actually, the mathematics and subsequent findings by the team have shown the exact opposite is true. The best couples, or the most successful couples, are the ones with a really low negativity threshold. These are the couples that don’t let anything go unnoticed and allow each other some room to complain. These are the couples that are continually trying to repair their own relationship, that have a much more positive outlook on their marriage. Couples that don’t let things go and couples that don’t let trivial things end up being a really big deal.

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