Women take the lead on speed dates

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Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Women take charge on speed dates, while men cross their fingers and hope to be chosen, a study has found.

Men also tended to be more sympathetic and supportive, researchers discovered.

And even when they committed the unforgivable man-crime of interrupting their date, it was done sympathetically, contrary to the stereotype.

US scientists analysed the language used by 20 men and 20 women who wore recording devices in the course of around 1,000 four-minute speed dates, and questioned them about their dating experience.

Language expert and computer scientist Professor Dan Jurafsky from Stanford University, California, who led the study, said: “It turns out what generally happens on these speed-dating evenings is that the women are the deciders.

“At the end of the evening, men tend to say yes to almost everybody and women are much more selective. So, in practice, that means in a speed date, the woman is the decider. The empowered party in this interaction is the woman.

“We found that women in successful dates talked more about themselves. They used the word “I” more. Men talked about the woman more, they used the word “you” more. Men were much more supportive. They would sympathise more with problems, saying things like ‘Oh, that’s terrible’ or ‘sorry to hear that’, or ‘that’s too bad’.

“The men would interrupt a lot. We thought interruption would usually be a sign of taking the floor and of being rude, but all of these interruptions were sympathetic interruptions. They would stop someone and say, ‘Oh, that exactly happened to me too’.”

Awkwardness was easy to spot from the kind of words people used, said Prof Jurafsky, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose.

“The more awkward someone was, the more they used hedges, like ‘kind of’, or ‘sort of’,” he said. “Our linguistic analysis is the people are so uncomfortable in this date that they can’t even commit to the truth one of their sentences.

“Even the individual sentence have to be hedged because they are so uncomfortable in the situation. And people pick up on this awkwardness and mark these people as particularly awkward.”

Women who seemed attracted to their speed-date partners showed their engagement by frequently changing the pitch and loudness of their voice, he said.

The worst strategy a man could adopt was to talk about his work.

“On a good date, the woman was engaged and the man was attentive,” Prof Jurafsky added.

Signs of a woman being interested could be seen within the first minute, the study said.

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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