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There is an inherent information problem in mate selection. Marital success requires a high level of compatibility between the mates but credible information about the attributes of a potential marriage partner is not easily obtainable. The institutions of courtship and its later stage, engagement, are essentially information gathering processes. We argue that a couple's display of their commitment to the relationship and their choice of the length of the courtship reveal information about their marriage compatibility. The efficacy of courtship and engagement depends on the parameters of the social and cultural context.