Science of Dating: Topics of Conversation

Science of Dating: Topics of Conversation

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

So, your attempts at chat-up lines have gone well (the topic of the first post in this theme) and you have gotten yourself a date. But what now? What do you talk about? Well it appears science has the answer to that too!

An investigation conducted at the Edinburugh Science Festival by psychologists James Houran, Caroline Watt and Richard Wiseman looked into what topics of conversation are the most sucessful in a dating situation. One hundred randomly selected participants (50 men and 50 women) engaged in the scientific speed dating.

The subjects were sat on 5 long tables facing a member of the opposite sex. Four of the tables were given a topic to discuss (film, travel, hobbies or books), while the fifth control table were allowed to talk about whatever they wanted. After 3 minutes of conversation each participant rated their potential suitor based on physical attraction, chemistry, how quickly they made their mind up and if they would see the other person again. The  participants then swapped and had introductions with more people.

Those who said that they wanted to meet again were given each others numbers. Around 60% left with at least 1 number and 20% got 4 or more numbers. But, it was differences in success of the topic of conversation that was the really interesting statistic.

Talking about films was the least successful topic with only 9% saying that they would like to see the other person again, whilst 18% who discussed travel (the most popular topic) wanted to meet again. The poor showing for film was attributed to the differences in film tastes between men and women, also Wiseman observed that whenever he walked past the film table the participants were just arguing!

Also discovered was that 45% of womens descisions were made during the first 30 seconds, whilst only 22% of men made their descision in that time.

Whatever you talk about though it appears that humour plays a very important role. A 2004 study by Arthur Aron and Barbra Fraley got pairs of strangers to undergo tasks. One part of the study half the participants were paired up with one blindfolded and the other asked to speak with a straw in their mouth to give themselves a funny voice. The individual with a straw was asked to instruct the blindfolded individual to do a dance routine. The control group  learnt the dance without the blindfold and speaking normally. The second part of the study had the ‘comedy group’ act out commercials using a made up language while the controls acted them out in english.

Unsurprisingly the participants involved in the siller actions had more fun. But, importantly they also rated themselves as feeling closer and more attracted to their partners.

So, what can we gather from this? Well, the implactions seem to be, be funny, enthuse about your travels, but for God sake don’t go on about how much you hate the other persons favourite film!

Sources:



ResearchBlogging.org

Fraley, B., & Aron, A. (2004). The effect of a shared humorous experience on closeness in initial encounters Personal Relationships, 11 (1), 61-78 DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2004.00071.x

Wiseman R. Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives. Macmillan. 2007

The Science of Dating: Pick-Up Lines

The Science of Dating: Pick-Up Lines

As a bit of a break from my usual blogging routine, this weeks blogs will all be on a theme. The science of dating, moving from pick-up lines through to the biochemistry of long term relationships. I will go through the staggering amount of research in this area and attempt to find out if you can use science to orchestrate a perfect date! [Note: Appologies for the poor formatting word press went a tad crazy when I put the tables in!]

 

“If I could be any enzyme I would be DNA Helicase so I could unzip your genes”

 

 

There is more to the science of chat-up lines than utilising some classic science puns on an unsuspecting individual. A surpring amount of research has been done into why we attempt pick-up lines and which have the greatest chance of a positive reception, a 1986 study by Chris Kleinke sought to answer the latter.

The study was divided into two parts, one looking at lines that men use to meet women and the other looking at the inverse. In the first part of the study 137 men and 163 women (90% of participants were under 27) were asked to list ‘lines’ that they thought would be successful. These were then ranked by women on a 7 point scale (from 1-Terrible to 7-Excellent). The lines were then grouped into types, ‘Cute-Flipant’, ‘Direct Approach’ or ‘Innocuous’. From this it was observed that women prefer direct or innocous lines compared to cute-flipant, although the most direct lines (such as “I’m easy, are you?”) unsurprisingly ranked very poorly! But what lines in particular were ranked at the best and worst?

The Best Rated Lines:

Location

Line

Responses rated as good to excellent (%)

General

Hi

60.0

Bars

Do you want to dance?

63.6

Restaurant

I haven’t been here before, what’s good on the menu?

58.2

Supermarkets

Can I help you with those bags?

60.8

Laundrette

Want to go and grab a beer or cup of coffee while we’re waiting?

56.6

Beach

Want to play Frisbee?

67.7

The Worst Rated Lines:
Line Responses rated as poor to terrible (%)
General – Is that really your hair? 89
Bar – (Looking at a woman’s jewellery) Wow it looks like you’ve just robbed a Woolworths. 89.6
Laundrette – A man shouldn’t have to wash his own clothes 83.5
Supermarkets – Do you really eat that junk? 89.6
Beach – Did you notice me throwing that football? Good arm, huh? 88.2

But what about women? Well, when the study looked at the lines used by women they asked, 93 male and 112 female, students from the Universities Of California and Massachusetts for what liens women might use. They were ranked on the same 7 point scale and the following:

The Best Rated Lines:

Line

Responses rated as good to fantastic (%)

Since we’re both sitting alone would you like to join me?

71.6

Hi

58.9

I’m having trouble getting my car started. Will you give me a hand?

57.1

I don’t have anyone to introduce me, but I’d really like to get to know you more.

54.6

Can you give me directions (to anywhere)?

47.8

The Worst Rated Lines:

Line

Responses rated as poor to terrible (%)

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a boyfriend

81.6

Didn’t we meet in a previous life?

81.3

Hey baby, you’ve got a gorgeous chassis. Mind if I look under the hood?

79.5

I’m easy, are you?

79.2

What’s your sign?

78.8

Being aware of which lines are deemed good and which are deemed bad begs the question, why do we do it? A separate more recent study from Edinburgh University commented on this. They also found that direct approaches for sex (such as ” I’m not Fred Flintstone but i’ll make your bed rock”) and hyperbole compliments were treated with great disdain, commenting that it is a wonder why we had evolved to aproach the opposite sex in this way. In the end they theorised that it may be “used by men to identify sociosexually uninhibited women”, a polite way of saying they are looking for easy girls!

As far as I can tell the only studies that have been done into pick-up lines have been questionnaire filled in surveys then statistically analysed. Does this really tell us what works and what doesnt work in the real world? I think anthopologists should actually go to bars and use lines and observe their effects. If only for the pure amusement I would get from a scientists approaching someone on a beach and saying:

“Let me see your strapmarks?” … 86.8 % of girls rated this as poor to terrible!

ResearchBlogging.org

BALE, C., MORRISON, R., & CARYL, P. (2006). Chat-up lines as male sexual displays Personality and Individual Differences, 40 (4), 655-664 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2005.07.016

Kleinke, C., Meeker, F., & Staneski, R. (1986). Preference for opening lines: Comparing ratings by men and women Sex Roles, 15 (11-12), 585-600 DOI: 10.1007/BF00288216

Viral Science: Wikipedia A Love Song

Viral Science: Wikipedia A Love Song

What would happen if you dated Wikipedia and then split up?

I have spent quite a bit of time recently exploring and editing Wikipedia for various projects. So, for a viral science post I decided to post up this video about the story of what it would be like to be in a realtionship with Wikipedia:

Here are the lyrics to the song:

When I met you, I thought you were really smart
And even more so when we started going out
It was your intellect that really won my heart
There was so much stuff you knew so much about

I was hungry for knowledge, and I was single
I didn’t want to date and really hadn’t planned to
You were cool and you were smart and multilingual
And I felt like I could really understand you

But then, it went downhill
and we can never get back to our better days
I’m done, I’ve had my thrill
and I think we ought to go our separate ways

But it isn’t you, it’s me
I guess we just weren’t meant to be
I thought we were inseparable, I thought you were my friend
But looking back now, it all makes sense at the end

You’re sometimes vague, and you’re often inconsistent
You’ve no opinions, you never take a stance
You’re so dispassionate, you always sound so distant
And I tell you, you know zilch about romance

And not once did you ever say you love me
You sent no flowers, you NEVER called me “honey”
You always talked as if you were above me
And it feels like you are always needing money

Sometimes you generalize,
And on better days your tone is condescending
And when we talk books or films
You ALWAYS find a way spoil the ending

But it isn’t you, it’s me
I need someone more scholarly
I thought you had the answers, but your smarts are all pretend
And my attraction only makes sense at the end

You just believe everything you’re ever told
You never question, I’m pretty sure you don’t fact check
When someone puts ideas into your head
You never blink, you immediately buy it
I won’t say that you have no integrity… but I might imply it

It turns out you’re not the guy I thought I knew
and I think we need to stop and take a breather
I never know if what you’re saying’s really true
and frankly, sometimes, I don’t think you know either

You have no real facts, your knowledge is all heresay
And I’m tired of playing all your stupid games
You don’t keep pictures of me, and you don’t know my birthday
I don’t think that you even know my name

You keep tabs on other girls
But I notice there’s no article for me
You’re known by all the world
So I guess I’m just a droplet in the sea

But it isn’t you, it’s me
I owe you no apology
I know not to judge my company just based upon its looks
I’m too grown-up for your articles, it’s time that I read books