Dating Preferences Often Determined by Strangers

Study found attraction was higher if others viewed person as attractive

HealthDay SHARE

TUESDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- The opinions of total strangers can greatly influence your choice of romantic partners, a new study suggests.

The research included 40 male and 40 female college students who watched videos of eight speed-dating sessions. The Indiana University researchers assessed the students' potential romantic interest in the video participants.

Overall, the male students' interest in the women in the speed-dating sessions increased after viewing the videos, but their interest increased much more if the men in the video appeared to be interested in the women and if the men were considered to be as handsome or more so than the male student.

Female students' interest in men in the video increased when women in the video appeared interested in the men and decreased if the women in the video appeared uninterested.

"We might think that searching for mates is a process best done individually, that we can best gather the appropriate information by ourselves," lead author Skyler Place, a researcher in Indiana University's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said in a university news release. "But humans, like many other animals, also pay attention to the preferences of others, to make for a more efficient search process. Who others like might also be a good choice for ourselves."

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

"Of course people care about what friends and family think of their potential romantic partners. Surprisingly, we showed that complete strangers also matter," Place said.

More information

For more on first impressions of the opposite sex, go to the Association for Psychological Science.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.