Those people who give the impression they like pretty much everyone, tend to be popular and liked themselves. But a new study of speed daters suggests the opposite is true in a romantic context. In this case, the more daters a person reported finding desirable, the less likely they were to be rated desirable themselves – a finding not explained by (lack of) physical attractiveness, which was controlled for in the calculations.
The finding suggests a person's desperation for love can be picked up by others in as little as four minutes, an effect that is off-putting to potential dates who want to be made to feel special.
Dan Ariely (MIT) and colleagues made these observations after setting up a speed-dating session among 150 undergrad students. Each student conducted a four-minute 'date' with between 9 and 13 other students of the opposite sex. After each date, the students answered a few brief questions about how desirable they found the last person, how much chemistry they had, and how likely they thought that person was to find the other daters desirable.
“...the need to feel special plays a central role even within the first few moments of a romantic encounter”, the researchers said.
Eastwick, P.W., Finkel, E.J., Mochon, D. & Ariely, D. (2007). Selective versus unselective romantic desire. Psychological Science, 18, 317-319.