The paper reviewed dozens of studies within the existing literature on romantic relationships, finding evidence for the progression bias in three broad “turning points” in relationships: early-stage dating, investing in a relationship, and deciding whether to stay or leave.
In terms of early-stage dating (which includes choosing whom to date), the results of multiple speed-dating studies suggest that we are willing to date people who do not live up to our preconceived standards. Live interactions likely play a role in the process. For example, a 2011 study asked participants to evaluate written profiles of potential suitors and then meet in person. After the live interaction, the romantic interest expressed by the participants wasn’t associated with how well they matched with the suitors’ written profiles.
“In other words, although people discerned between potential partners who did versus did not meet their ideals when evaluating them ‘on paper,’ that selectivity vanished after a single interaction with the person,” wrote the researchers behind the recent review.