Everyone Can Predict The Interest Level Of Men On A Date - But Not Of The Women With Them
    By News Staff | January 30th 2009 12:00 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    When it comes to assessing the romantic playing field -- who might be interested in whom -- men and women were shown to be equally good at gauging men's interest during an Indiana University study involving speed dating -- and equally bad at judging women's interest. 

    Researchers expected women to have a leg up in judging romantic interest, because theoretically they have more to lose from a bad relationship, but no such edge was found. 

    Place's study, published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science, focused on the ability of observers to judge romantic interest between others because this ability has evolutionary benefits when it comes to finding a mate. Decisions that other people around us make, said Place, can influence or inform our own choices. 

    "The hardest-to-read women were being misperceived at a much higher rate than the hardest-to-read men. Those women were being flirtatious, but it turned out they weren't interested at all," said lead author Skyler Place, a doctoral student in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences working with cognitive science Professor Peter Todd. "Nobody could really read what these deceptive females were doing, including other women." 

    Want to try it for yourself?  Readers can see how successful they are at judging romantic interest by participating in a new online study that contains the same task as the one described here. It takes 20-minutes and you can find it  here

    "So, if you walk into a room and there's 20 people you've never met before, being able to know which individuals might be available and which are clearly smitten by others can make you more efficient in finding your own romantic interest to pursue," he said. 

    For the study, 28 women and 26 men of college age watched video clips of couples interacting on speed dates. Speed dating is a popular commercial method for singles to meet a large number of individuals in one evening of successive brief one-on-one conversations. Each participant observed 24 videos, all with different men and women, and after each rated whether the man seemed interested in the woman and the woman in the man. 

    The speed dating sessions were all conducted in Germany while the observer ratings were all made by students in Indiana. Despite the language difference, observers were still able to judge men's romantic interest accurately using body language, tone of voice, eye contact, how often each dater spoke and other non-verbal cues. 

    "How people talk might convey more than what they say," Place said. 

    Observers did not have to see much of this non-verbal behavior. They were just as good at predicting the speed-dating couple's interest if they saw only 10 seconds of the date as they were if they saw 30 seconds. The researchers say this showed that observers, even with limited information, could make quick, accurate inferences using "thin slices" of behavior. 

    There was, however, great variability in how well observers could predict the interest of any particular speed-dater, ranging from 90 percent accuracy down to 10 percent. In five of the videos, 80 percent of the observers thought the women shown were interested when in fact they were not -- they were acting friendly even though they had no interest in the men. 

    Evolutionary theory, said Place, predicts a certain level of coyness or even deceptiveness in women because if a relationship is abandoned they may face greater costs, including pregnancy and child rearing. When choosing a mate, it is in a woman's best interest to get men to open up and talk honestly to give her a better idea of whether they would be good long-term partners. 

    "In a speed dating environment, you would expect to see these effects dramatically, with the women trying to get the men to be more straightforward, while they themselves remain more coy," Place said. "Though the pace is faster than a typical first date, the strategy remains the same." 

    Co-authors include Peter M. Todd, Cognitive Science Program, in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington; Lars Penke, University of Edinburgh in Scotland; and Jens B. Asendorpf, Humboldt University of Berlin. 

    Article: Place, S. S., Todd, P. M., Penke, L.,&Asendorpf, J. B. (2009). "The ability to judge the romantic interest of others." Psychological Science, 20(1), 22-26.


    Becky Jungbauer

    I wonder if it's also because men tend to be more matter of fact - often times men just say what they think, whereas women are accused of angling and saying one thing but wanting the other person to read between the lines. Perhaps non-verbal cues work the same way.

    yeah all wemon are bitches imo i mean they pretend to be interested when they are not its kinda like,quit wasting my time bitch im not interested in bring you "friend" your "buddy" or "amigo" ok. im not interested in what your favorite color is or why you think baby seals are cute unless your planning on coming back to my place at a later time,I would rather you tell me right off the bat so i can get on with my life and not have to listen to your incoherent babbling or sit there in an awkward silence when you realize i don't give a fuck about the rainforest

    and as far as far as saying one thing and meaning another don't do that you just make yourself look like the retarded slut you are how are guys supposed to know that black means white unless you verbally in detail express to them that black = white and that doesn't mean saying well if you don't get it then to bad there is no text between the lines bitch get the picture?

    now i want every buck toothed,four eyed,one legged prostitute to read this and understand that i am being blunt and strait forward and while SOME guys don't feel as strongly about this as i do(most guys do,you don't know what we talk about behind closed doors) all guys feel this way to some extent

    here is the difference between me and other guys...ill tell a bitch whats up and other guys are pussies...bottom line

    Please stay out of the gene pool.

    You attract what you put out. If you're surrounded by problems (including problem females), it's time to practice some self introspection.

    Gerhard Adam
    Wow, and I'll bet that really impresses just about everyone. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't think there's much of a mystery here.  Women and men have completely different objectives, in terms of the dynamics that govern their lives.  Some of this has changed in recent history, but I'm sure you can easily trace the roots of both behaviors back to any small group.
    Mundus vult decipi