Entries in speed-dating (6)


Do Your Preferences for a Romantic Partner Influence Your Actual Choice of Romantic Partner?

A lot of research, from all over the world, has asked people about what they prefer in a future romantic partner. There is a big assumption in almost all of this research: that these preferences matter when people choose a romantic partner from many possible alternatives. For example, if my friend Chris says he prefers a woman that is a few years younger than him, outgoing, ambitious, and wants to start a family (eventually), most would assume when deciding to enter a romantic relationship he should be more likely to select someone that closely matches, rather than defies, his preferences. If my friend Shelby says she is looking for a dark-haired man with sagacious eyebrows who can simultaneously walk and chew gum, then she should be more likely to enter a relationship with a man that is both intelligent and has eyebrows and that scores high on the sagaciousness scale (assuming he knows what sagaciousness means).

I have not counted the number of studies that focus on “interpersonal attraction”, the general term used to describe research that is concerned with partner preferences, but it is safe to say that there are hundreds upon hundreds of published research studies on this topic.1 So do individual’s preferences for a romantic partner when they are single reflect the traits and personalities of their actual future romantic partners?

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The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Motivates Users and Companies

Read Part 1 of this series here: The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Is and Isn’t Real

People are shallow. Psychological science has demonstrated that people often use a “what is beautiful is good” mental shortcut.1 People tend to assume positive characteristics about others based on physical attractiveness, even though these perceptions are not accurate. This bias for beauty has been shown in all types of contexts that are not limited to online dating. A classic study from the 60s on in-person dating found that a date’s hot body/face predicted romantic attraction more than personality traits, intelligence, popularity/charisma, mental health, and self-esteem.

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Another Perspective on “Speed” Dating

You might remember the 1994 movie Speed, where the characters portrayed by Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock have to drive a passenger-filled bus over 50mph through downtown Los Angeles to prevent a bomb from exploding and killing them all. Of course, they accomplish this terrifying feat, and by the end of the movie they have fallen in love. (If you haven't seen the movie, you can watch the 2 minute version here or think about the Fast & Furious franchise instead.)

The movie’s basic premise may be the stuff of wild Hollywood imaginations. But what about the idea that driving fast and near-death experiences can lead to attraction between two strangers? This probably seems pretty far-flung, but in fact, the producers of Speed got this part right.

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I Know You Want Me

After rating their own attractiveness, 200 undergraduates participated in a speed-meeting task and talked to 5 members of the opposite sex for 3 minutes each. Men with high self-perceived attractiveness were more likely to think the women (especially attractive women) were attracted to them. Also, men looking to hook up overestimated women’s desire. In contrast, women underestimated men’s desire. From an evolutionary perspective, men’s overestimations increase mating success because it gives them more chances. 

Perilloux, C., Easton, J. A., & Buss, D. M. (in press). The misperception of sexual interest: A speed-meeting study. Psychological Science.

image source: novelasymas.com


Words Matter: Language Style Predicts Relationship Longevity

As we all know, the dating scene can be frustrating. For example, we’ve all probably dealt with the uncertainty of a first date in which we are trying to decipher whether our date is actually interested in us or if he or she is simply putting on a happy face to avoid hurting our feelings. Wouldn’t it be great to find a subtle way to determine whether you and your date are going to “click”? As you can probably guess, researchers have found a way to predict just this based on the words each person uses when communicating.

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Partner Ideals: Do They Matter?

You might call it your dream date, your prototype, or, if you’re the pragmatic sort, you may call it your list of must-haves. Regardless of the framing, if you’re single-and-looking then you probably have an idea of the sort of romantic partner you’re after. And although some of the qualities you’re looking for are probably attractive to everyone (e.g., trustworthiness), you may also be after other personality traits that are attractive to some but not to others (e.g., sophistication). Ultimately, though, does it really matter? To what extent do we actually pick partners who resemble our “ideal partner” images?

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