What else can ruin a first date besides bad breath? Researchers analyzed speed-dating interviews and found that asking too many questions, speaking in monotone, and not showing enough enthusiasm predicted a lack of connection.
Before the rise of Tinder and OKCupid, back in the days when banging our friends didn’t require a Facebook account, there was speed dating.
Essentially, a session of heterosexual speed dating involves a group of women sitting around in a circle and a group of men who rotate around them.
But, for two Stanford researchers, speed dating also provides rich material for analyzing the science behind romance and attraction.
According to their findings, there are a few key elements of the standard four-minute speed date that consistently predict whether two people will hit it off or head for the hills — even outside of the speed-dating arena.
Some of the results are a no-brainer (women like men who are interested in them), while others are less intuitive (who knew asking too many questions was a faux pas? Researchers recruited graduate students from an “elite private American university” to take part in a series of speed dating sessions in 2005.
Everyone participated just once, and all students were promised the contact information of anyone they matched with.
The daters wore audio recorders during their four-minute interviews (so no lewd comments, please! In the end, researchers ended up accumulating transcripts of 1,100 dates.
All daters also filled out surveys about their demographic, personal interests, and dating experience.
After analyzing all the data, the scientists came to the conclusion that there are certain key factors that predict whether couples “clicked.” Perhaps surprisingly, men and women usually said they clicked when their conversations were mostly about the women.
Less shocking, women were more likely to say they connected with men who used appreciative language (“That’s awesome!
”) and who interrupted them — but only as a way to show understanding and engagement (“Exactly”).
And for those who think it’s a good idea to ask a bazillion questions about where their partner grew up and the name of his or her childhood pet, think again: Asking questions usually signalled a lack of connection, probably because women felt that they had to act curious in order to keep a boring conversation going.
Signs of a good conversation were subtler, like varying one’s speech to get louder and softer. Department of Psychology, Social Behavioral Science Building, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, NC. But this new study adds to a growing body of research suggesting there are other factors, aside from a pretty face, that predict whether two people click.