The scientists have found that when it comes to dating, women, in fact, do not appear to be any choosier than men, as it was believed before. According to the speed dating study, when women were assigned to the traditionally male role of selecting potential romantic partners, they were not any pickier than men in choosing that special someone to date.
Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick, social psychologists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said that the new findings turn the tables on traditional deeply believed stereotypes which suggest that men are less picky than women because they are not exposed to the risk of becoming pregnant.
For their study purposes, the team of experts involved 350 undergraduate students and asked them to take part in a number of specially designed speed-dating events. In half of the events, the men rotated around the seated women, and in the remaining 7 events, the ladies moved between the seated gentlemen. Following each 4-minute "date," the participants needed to demonstrate their romantic desire for that partner as well as to show how self-confident they felt. After the event, the students were asked to indicate on a Website whether they would or would not be interested in seeing each partner again.
The investigators found that when the men rotated, the results supported the long-held notion of men being less choosy, but when the women rotated, the gap surprisingly disappeared. To be more specific, when men rotated, ladies said yes 43 per cent of the time, and men said yes 50 per cent of the time. However, when women rotated, men said yes 43 per cent of the time, while women said yes 45 per cent of the time. Regardless of gender, individuals who rotated, expressed greater romantic desire for their partners, compared to those who were seated during the evening. The rotators, in contrast to the sitters, were more likely to show a greater interest in meeting with their speed-dating partners again.
The experts assume that this kind of phenomenon was observed probably because physical actions can change one's perception. When something is being pulled closer, they said, it means that the object being pulled appears to be more appealing and attractive, while pushing an object away makes it less desirable. In other words, approaching someone makes the mind want who it is approaching, because people are in the habit of moving towards other people that they want and moving away from those who they do not like. The researchers also suggested that confidence could be another possible explanation of the study results. Approaching a potential date boosts confidence, which, in its turn, makes the approacher less picky.
This study demonstrates a clear example of how an unnoticeable gender bias (when men rotate and women are seated) can affect not only the results of a study, but may also skew the chances of a speed dater to find a potential match. The current new findings add to the research on romantic selectivity and recommend that future studies paid attention to the possible consequences that other social norms may have on their outcome. The investigators said in the conclusion that "the gendered norm they have manipulated in the present study is just one of a universe of possible norms that could in principle affect romantic attraction."
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.