The research was based on a speed dating study, which, to be honest, immediately put me off as they typically just correlate features of the individuals with their date choices – but this study is a little different.
The speed dating was used just to record videos of the daters meeting and interacting with each other, and the participants in the study were just asked to watch the videos and rate when they thought the chemistry was flowing between any particular couple.
From the BPS Research Digest write-up:
Skyler Place and colleagues made their finding using footage of couples on speed-dates. Fifty-four students observed dozens of 10-, 20- or 30-second clips of real speed dating interactions and attempted to say in each case whether each person was romantically interested in the other.
The researchers had access to the daters’ real decisions about whether they were interested in any of their speed dates, and were able to compare these with the students’ judgements.
The students performed more accurately than would be expected had they simply been guessing. They judged the interest of the male daters with 61 per cent accuracy and the female daters with 58 per cent accuracy. Their accuracy was unaffected by the length of each clip, but was higher when the clip was taken from the middle or the end of a dating interaction. Students currently in a romantic relationship outperformed those who weren’t.
I was particularly interested in the results described in the last sentence.
In the scientific paper, the researchers suggest that this “could stem in part from learning through relationship experiences. Alternatively, it is possible that the social skills necessary to succeed in finding and maintaining a relationship also support the ability to correctly perceive romantic interest.”