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Speed-Dating Roles Influence Attraction Perception

A study in the journal Psychological Science reveals that in speed-dating situations, those in stationary positions tend to be more picky than those assigned to move around the room. Karen Hopkin reports

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

For folks who’ve engaged in the strange ritual of “speed dating,” finding that special someone is like winning a romantic game of musical chairs. Now scientists from Northwestern University say that the results depend on who’s doing the circling and who gets to sit.

If you’re not familiar with the process, in a typical bout of speed dating women are seated at a table and men come up to join them. The couples chat for a few minutes, and when the timer goes off the men stand up and move to the next table. At the end of the evening, participants fill out a score card indicating which partners they might like to see again. In this situation, it seems that the guys are usually less selective than the gals. They express interest in following up with more of their dates.

But when psychologists turned the tables and asked the boys to remain seated while the girls did the rotating, the results also did a 180—and the ladies became less picky, findings published in the journal Psychological Science. So the mere act of moving toward a potential mate seems to make that person more attractive. Which means that beauty may well be in the eye of the approacher.

—Karen Hopkin

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