Do you agree?
The above statement is a direct quote from an academic paper about online dating, written by Professor Khalid Khan of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Sameer Chaudhry of the University of North Texas, published in the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine. I read about the paper in an article online this week and thought it sounded like story gold, so I took a closer look.
The paper’s stated objective is: to determine, for people seeking a date online, what activities and behaviours have an effect on the chances of converting electronic communication into a face-to-face meeting.
Or to paraphrase, how to win at online dating.
And since success at the preliminary stages of online dating is all about establishing a character – creating an alluring but credible persona to engage the interest of potential partners – I thought the paper might have some interesting things to say about how to make fictional romance heroes and heroines more attractive, to each other and to the reader. I was especially curious because the research relates to real-life dating choices, not book boyfriends and girlfriends. It really set my mental wheels turning.
If you’d be interested in taking a look at the document itself, the link is here.
If you’d rather have your appetite piqued by a few tasty nuggets, here are a selection of the ones that caught my attention:
- Men prefer names that suggest attractiveness, women choose intelligence.
- Women find a man more attractive when they see other women smiling at him.
- Women prefer bravery, courage and willingness to take risks over kindness and altruism in their partners.
- A person who touches others is perceived to be of higher status than the person receiving the touch.
- Likeability is more important than academic achievement.
- Communications specifically tailored to a person beat generic expressions of appreciation/interest hands down.
- Excessive or unrealistic flattery invites rejection, because it raises suspicion about the motives of the complimenter.
- Eager responses are not a turn-off.
- Disclosure of personal information leads to a feeling of closeness.
- Knowing each other’s trivia is a predictor of a long relationship.
- We like others most when we’re not sure whether they like us a little or a lot.
There are lots more choice tidbits. I laughed when I read that the authors say ‘show, don’t tell’ is the rule of thumb for creating a profile.
And I love the Acknowledgement: The authors would like to thank the potential dates who turned down one of us repeatedly, encouraging us to think about the effectiveness of online dating.
I was surprised that risk-taking beat kindness – I’d have thought that was a book boyfriend trope – but I thought most of the rest was a handy reminder about adding in the little details that make a love story credible.
What do you think?
And if you’ve ever tried online dating, or know anyone who has, I’d love to get your perspective.