Friday, February 28, 2014

A Game Theoretic Approach to LDS Dating

The March 2014 issue of the “Ensign” contains an article my Elder Tad R. Callister titled, “The Lord’s Standard of Morality” that has provoked much comment.  The most controversial paragraph may be

The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men.  If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure. 

Understanding Elizabeth

In this post, I develop a game theoretic approach to Mormon youth dating.  The agents in this problem are Elizabeth and George who are both actively engaged in the Mormon youth program.  The agents might as easily be reversed to Joseph and Joan.  The main assumption of the model was taken from Callister who observed

Our dress affects not only our thoughts and actions but also the thoughts and actions of others.

Elizabeth is a typical LDS youth; she wants to “choose the right” but she also wants to be stylish and craves acceptance of her peers, particularly boys.  She was excited that George, the cutest boy in the ward, flirted with her at a combined youth activity.

Her excitement was tempered by a conversation she overheard in which George told friends that immodestly dressed girls made him hot.  She concludes that his statement is consistent with four personality types.  First, George is normal devout member like her and more likely to commit a “confessable sin” while dating a person who is immodest in dress or action; he was confessing a weakness and not betraying a hope.  George is blustering, a wannabe bad boy trying to avoid the label of “goody two-shoes.”  He might be personable but with average moral standards and not those of the Church.  Finally, he might be a “player” betraying preferences, not confessing weaknesses.  She estimates the odds of each as righteous (40%), blustering (30%), common (20%) and player (10%).  She decides to go because the risk of a bad outcome is low.