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Picky picky
June 15, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Women may not be so picky after all. Researchers at Northwestern University have been finding some interesting things about human mating by holding and studying speed-dating events (pdf).

Speed dating research has also produced findings about whether or not people actually know what they initially desire in a mate (pdf) and about the disastrous effects of giving off a desperate vibe (pdf).

How these new findings fit in with (or refute) previous evolutionary research (pdf) on mating preferences has yet to be determined.
posted by AceRock (33 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Women [who elect to attend "speed dating" events] may not be so picky after all.

Speed dating research has also produced findings about whether or not people [who elect to attend "speed dating" events] actually know what they initially desire in a mate.

How these new findings fit in with previous evolutionary research on mating preferences [among those so desperate as to attend "speed dating" events] has yet to be determined.
posted by ook at 2:36 PM on June 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Measure of romantic desire
Speed-dating partner’s report
Romantic desire Chemistry
Dyadic .14nnn .20nnn
Generalizeda .41nn .32n


Man...science can take the fun out of anything.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:38 PM on June 15, 2009


In other news, biologists are hoping to learn more about human nutrition by observing the sales records of a local fast food joint, and yes... careless generalizations will be available in the abstract.

Stay tuned.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:39 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


> the disastrous effects of giving off a desperate vibe (pdf).

I don't need to read this to know it's a study of my love life when I was in college.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 2:39 PM on June 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


(Okay, they're recruited undergrads, not desperate last-chancers. But still, gotta be kind of a skewed sample, no?)
posted by ook at 2:40 PM on June 15, 2009


I may have mis-read that, but with a mean age of 19.6 years, a group of undergrad students is not what I'd consider a solid representation of humans in general. They're still figuring out what they really want in life, even though they may think they know it already. They'll date, break up, date again, and see their peers go through the same things. Give them a few years, and they'll know themselves and what they're looking for a bit better.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:40 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


At first I was all like "Hooray! Their standards are lower than we thought. Hope!" and then I realized "Oh. If their standards have been lower than previously thought all along and I still have this track record..."
posted by sourwookie at 2:43 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stonewall Jackson, I think your problem was that your college experience was at a military school, and probably pretty limited in women at that period. Plus, anyone nicknamed "Stonewall" doesn't sound particularly engaging or comforting. Just sayin'.

But if you did want to read the article, in case you get accepted for a role in some wacky time-traveling college movie-event, the gist of things is that if you appear to want everyone, the no one will want you in return. You have to be, or at least appear, selective.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2009


Original pickiness article: (pdf)
posted by AceRock at 2:52 PM on June 15, 2009


filthy light thief: "anyone nicknamed "Stonewall" doesn't sound particularly engaging or comforting. Just sayin'. "

I blame Jackson's poorly remembered roommate, Cockblockin' Monroe.
posted by boo_radley at 2:53 PM on June 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


Thankfully my wife is not very picky at all. I'm a disgusting hairy slob, truly.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:54 PM on June 15, 2009


My wife got all picky after 16 years of marriage, now I sleep in my office.
posted by Xoebe at 2:58 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Measure of romantic desire
Speed-dating partner’s report
Romantic desire Chemistry
Dyadic .14nnn .20nnn
Generalizeda .41nn .32n


Is the robobutler lovesick again?
posted by benzenedream at 3:10 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Therefore, if expressing romantic desire
emerges as a generalized tendency rather than a unique response
to a particular individual, it may be antieffective at
inducing another person’s desire.


I LOVE LAMP
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:15 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what you're saying is, there's hope after all!
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:26 PM on June 15, 2009


Apparently there is slightly more hope if the men stay where they are and the women move from table to table.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:31 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am going to try speed dating and do my own survey
posted by lark riley at 4:11 PM on June 15, 2009


Women may not be so picky after all? This is no secret. In fact, during my pimply-faced, geeked out college glory days, I wrote a short (and surprisingly popular among my 30 or so friends) play titled "Dicks Get Chicks."

Or, as Pitt The Younger from Black Adder once described the situation "Why do nice girls hate me? Why--"

I guess my point is that they aren't picky, but when I was a nauseating adolescent, they were at least picky enough not to pick me.

/derail
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:31 PM on June 15, 2009


MetaFilter: Knowing way better than those silly scientists since 1999.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:11 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm actually a little embarrassed now about my too-quick initial snark here. This part, at least, seems reasonably well-controlled for sampling bias, since it was comparing behavior of the same group of people in different situations:

In half of the events, the men rotated while the women sat. In the remaining events, the women rotated. [...] When the men rotated, the results supported the long-held notion of men being less selective. When the women rotated, this robust sex difference disappeared.

So the traditional "men pursue, women choose" dynamic is what leads to the stereotype of women being pickier about who they'll accept; when men are put in the passive role, they become the picky ones. Not a terribly startling conclusion, really, but it is interesting to see that it's not strictly gender-based.
posted by ook at 5:17 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I blame Jackson's poorly remembered roommate, Cockblockin' Monroe."

Jackson: Say my little peach, why don't we go back to my place. I'm gonna be a general some day.
S. Belle: Tee hee *fans* Oh, Mr. Jackson, you do go on.
Monroe (across the room): Jackson! How's the herp...OOF!
Lee: *elbows*

Many generals wound up joining the Confederacy because of Robert "Wingman" Lee. Everyone just *said* he was a tactical genius.

"When the men rotated, the results supported the long-held notion of men being less selective. When the women rotated, this robust sex difference disappeared."

So women are pretty much playing men then?
posted by Smedleyman at 7:21 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Women may not be so picky after all

Sorry. That's as far as I got in the post. Just got home from the bar. Did I miss anything?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:45 PM on June 15, 2009


...the disastrous effects of giving off a desperate vibe.

Cameron has never been in love - at least, nobody's ever been in love with him. If things don't change for him, he's gonna marry the first girl he lays, and she's gonna treat him like shit, because she will have given him what he has built up in his mind as the end-all, be-all of human existence. She won't respect him, 'cause you can't respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:27 PM on June 15, 2009


I may have mis-read that, but with a mean age of 19.6 years, a group of undergrad students is not what I'd consider a solid representation of humans in general.

Universities use undergrads as psych subjects all the time. It's not a failing particular to this study. 19.6-year-olds are a very well-studied demographic.
posted by Jpfed at 10:32 PM on June 15, 2009


In half of the events, the men rotated while the women sat. In the remaining events, the women rotated. Following each four-minute “date,” the participants indicated their romantic desire in that partner and how self-confident they felt.

So one partner sits, and the other one rotates for four minutes?

Either they're doing it wrong, or I've been horrendously misled all these years.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:47 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Women may not be so picky after all.

To be clear, this does not demonstrate a lack of sex differences in choosiness (an extremely well-substantiated finding). What it shows is that speed-dating events have encouraged the natural disparity by making the men walk around like menu items. But they can use human psychology and the artificiality of speed dating set-ups to their business advantage: by putting women in the vulnerable "menu item" position they can apparently either partially or fully close the choosiness gap at these kinds of events.

If there were no sex difference than men would be choosier than the chosens when put in the selector position, just as women are. Instead they only become equally selective as the chosens.
posted by dgaicun at 5:53 AM on June 16, 2009


It's like going to a restaurant with a full menu. You're only going to be truly happy with your choice if you clearly know what you want, or if there's only one or two things on the menu that sound good to you. It's why going to IHOP is such a pain. I want a little bit of everything, unless I'm in the mood for one certain item. I always find myself ordering something, and then envying someone else's food on the table, wishing I had ordered that instead. Same thing to a degree, I think.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:21 AM on June 16, 2009


If there were no sex difference than men would be choosier than the chosens when put in the selector position, just as women are. Instead they only become equally selective as the chosens.

Could be that this is a side effect of a lifetime's experience on the other side of the table, rather than a gender-based difference. Hard to say how to control for that, though.
posted by ook at 10:51 AM on June 16, 2009


having suddenly discovered insta popularity among young men who were born when I was in high school, I'm thoroughly confused, this new generation is quite unlike any other (but I guess that's true of any gen) why aren't they out chasing twenty somethings?
posted by infini at 11:39 AM on June 16, 2009


probably because 20 somethings are likely to be more confused, less fun in the sack, and right royal pains in the arse, to boot.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:43 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


ha ha you have a point, tho' I do recall mistily being fun in the sack some twenty years ago ;p
posted by infini at 11:58 PM on June 17, 2009


"mistily" - is that some kind of Singaporean / Subcontinental version of how we say "steamy"?

makes a lot of sense, considering the climate differences & all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:08 AM on June 18, 2009


LOL no, I was trying to imply "through the mists of time" which have dimmed my memory... ;p
posted by infini at 6:23 AM on June 18, 2009


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