Filter theory (sociology)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Filter theory is a sociological theory concerning dating and mate selection. It proposes that social structure limits the number of eligible candidates for a mate. Most often, this takes place due to homogamy, as people seek to date and marry only those similar to them (characteristics that are often taken into account are age, race, social status and religion). Homogamy is the idea of marriage between spouses who share similar characteristics, where heterogamy denotes marriage between spouses of different characteristics. The idea of "opposites attract: is heterogamous as well as the idea that one spouse has complementing, not similar characteristics to the other.

  • Helpful terms in defining filter theory are "endogamy", which indicates that both partners come from the same group (ethnicity, religion, culture, age similarity, lifestyle, etc) and may also carry cultural sanctions against marrying outside of one's own group; and "exogamy" which indicates marrying out of one's own social group. Examples of exogamy include marrying outside of one's own race or religion.

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