How Strangers Dictate Who You Date

Fri, Sep 10, 2010

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You probably think that you choose your love interests on your own. That might not be the case, according to a new study from Indiana University. Researchers there set up an experiment where men and women watched videos of a speed dating session and were asked their opinions of who they found attractive at the end of the videos.

Both the male and female participants were found to be more attracted to the subjects in the video when interest in those subjects was displayed by the other people in the video. In other words, the men found the gals more attractive when the other guys in the video showed interest in her, and vice versa for women. In the case of men, they were especially more interested if the guys in the video who were showing the interest were as good looking or more good looking than them. On the flipside, the participants were less interested in the video subjects the less interest was shown towards them by others in the videos.

An explanation for this phenomenon could be that the process of selecting a mate can be made more efficient if we subconsciously rely on others to pre-select suitable partners. With the sheer number of people to choose from in today’s interconnected world, we need shortcuts to narrow down the field. It is at least something to think about the next time a female friend complains that the guys she’s attracted to are always taken, or when a guy suddenly has to check out the woman that he saw another guy do a double take over.

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