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

Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Facebook Shown to Boost Self-Esteem

Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Facebook Shown to Boost Self-Esteem

Is my profile picture the fairest of them all? As a phenomena Facebook is still fairly new and its impact sociologically and psychologically remains to be completely understood. However, a new study has shone a little bit of light into this still cloudy area, claiming that looking at your Facebook profile page boosts your self-esteem.

The study was carried out by Amy Gonzales and Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University. Previous research indicated internet use promotes depression, loneliness and to decreased social skills. However, the effect of Facebook exposure on general self-esteem had not been explored.

The participants were told that the study was designed to examine “people’s attitudes about themselves after exploring different Internet sites” and were separated into three groups. An online group, an offline group and an offline control group.

The online control group were asked to go onto their Facebook page and were given no instruction on whether or not they were allowed to change their page. After three minutes the researchers returned with a questionnaire. In the offline group a mirror was placed infront of the computer screen to act as an offline “self awareness stimulator” and were told they could not move it, due to it being “part of another experiment”. After three minutes they were given a questionnaire. The offline control group were placed in the same cubicle without the mirror and without the screen turned on.

Self-esteem was measure using the Rosenburg Self-Esteem scale and used to test several hypotheses. The hypotheses were as follows:

  1. Exposure to one’s Facebook site will have a more negative effect on self-esteem than traditional objective self-awareness stimuli
  2. Exposure to one’s Facebook site will have a more positive effect on self-esteem than a control condition or a traditional self-awareness stimuli
  3.  Participants who exclusively examine only their own profile will report higher self-esteem than participants who view other profiles in addition to their own profiles
  4.  Participants who make changes to their profile during the experiment will have higher self-esteem than participants who do not

Contrast analyses were undertaken that showed that there was a significant link between the Facebook views and an increase in self-esteem. When looking at the effect of individuals changing their Facebook pages the researchers declared that “participants who changed their profile during the study reported higher self-esteem than those who did not change their profile”.

But what does this tell us, about us? The results follow the Walther’s Hyperpersonal model, suggesting that the process of selective self-presentation of ourselves on Facebook influences our impressions of ourselves, in this instance boosting self-esteem. In contrast to this when presented with a non-edited view (i.e. mirror) self-esteem is decreased.

There are limitations in this study that need to be taken into account. The study did not normalise for the number and quality of friendships on Facebook. This is a factor that obviously could play a role in how someone interacts with the site. 

So, next time I am on Facebook when I probably should be working I will tell myself, don’t worry, it’s good for me…and will avoid looking in the mirror!

 

ResearchBlogging.org

Gonzales AL, & Hancock JT (2011). Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 14 (1-2), 79-83 PMID: 21329447