When the men rotated, the results supported the long-held notion of men being less selective.
This jives with previous research citing an evolutionary basis for women to be more selective of their mates (the reproductive costs for women are greater than for men).
Following each "date" (which lasted four minutes), the participants reported their romantic desire for the partner and how self-confident they themselves felt.
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The authors explain, "given that men are generally expected, if not required (as at professional speed-dating events), to approach in romantic contexts, perhaps this factor alone could be sufficient to explain why women tend to be more selective than men." This study presents a clear example of how an inconspicuous gender bias (having men rotate and women sit) can affect not only the outcome of a study, but may also skew the chances of a speed dater obtaining a potential match.
The present findings add to the literature of romantic selectivity and advise future studies to look at the possible consequences that other social norms may have on their results.
But here is where it gets interesting: When the women rotated; they became less selective while the sitting men were pickier.
It turns out that, regardless of gender, the participants who rotated experienced greater romantic desire for and chemistry with their partners, compared to participants who sat throughout the event.
Pulling something closer makes the object being pulled more appealing, whereas pushing something away makes the object less desirable.
Finkel and Eastwick argue that approaching someone makes the mind want what it is approaching, because people are in the habit of moving towards objects that they want and moving away from objects that they don't want.Approaching a potential date increases confidence, which in turn makes the approacher less selective.On a larger scale, these results have implications for the social norms surrounding romantic relationship initiation and for companies that capitalize on the business of dating.The researchers established 15 speed-dating events for 350 young adults.During eight events, men rotated around the seated women, and during seven events, women moved between seated men.Psychologists have worked out that they can get swarms of student participants in mate-choice studies by offering speed-dating opportunities on university campuses in return for the right to analyse the dating behaviour during the events. Normally in speed dating, men walk around a room and visit a succession of seated women for mini dates just a few minutes long.