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Economists Peter Arcidiacono and Marjorie Mc Elroy of Duke and Andrew Beauchamp of Boston College examined an enormous trove of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, more commonly known as The poll asked a broad range of questions about health and behavior—and the data set has become the basis of dozens of famed medical, sociological, and economic studies.(For instance, James Fowler of UC-San Diego recently used data from Add Health be a genetic foundation for an individual's political beliefs.) For their paper, Arcidiacono, Mc Elroy, and Beauchamp focused on the dating and sex lives of high schoolers—a subject much-analyzed by magazine editors and romantic-comedy screenwriters, but less familiar to social scientists.
(They looked only at opposite-sex relationships within the same school.) That's uncommon: Most academic studies on marriage and partner-matching use a technique called "," which looks at pre-existing couples and defines the characteristics they do and do not have in common.
(Humans tend to partner with mates that look and act like them.
In real terms, that means couples with the same socioeconomic, racial, and religious background are common.
In high-school terms, that means math nerds date math nerds, though members of the debate team may also qualify.) he or she seeks in a partner as well as what he or she ends up getting.
The idea is that men and women—jocks and dorks, freshman and seniors—base their search not only on the characteristics of their chosen partner, but also the expected terms of the relationship.
In the Darwinian world of high-school dating, freshman girls and senior boys have the highest chances of successfully partnering up. And they have found that for the most part, they're accurate.
Now, however, social scientists have examined them exhaustively and empirically.
These are truisms known to anyone who has watched 10 minutes of a teen movie or spent 10 minutes in a high school cafeteria.
So are some other old prom-era chestnuts: Teen boys are primarily—obsessively?
—interested in sex, whereas girls, no matter how boy-crazy, tend to focus on relationships.
Young men frequently fib about their sexual experience, whereas young women tend to be more truthful.
Once a student has sex, it becomes less of an issue in future relationships.