The Dating Game

2 Aug, 2005 | LifeScience And TechnologyTdp

I caught a programme on the BBC recently which set up a scientific dating agency using a group of volunteers. The aim was to match up couples and try and forge long-term relationships using a variety of scientific methods and theories. The scientists had done lots of research into dating techniques, attractiveness and had studied many successful couples to see what made their relationship work. Well, it wasn’t enough; the scientific methods were a resounding failure.

They mainly used face shape and CQ (Compatibility Quotient) tests to try and find people who were similar because, supposedly, similar people make for better long-term relationships. They also asked the men and women to make changes to a computer model of the opposite sex to try and find out the ideal figure and this was then monitored over the course of a speed dating session where participants were asked to record scores for each person they met. Strangely, the scientists all believed that similar people went well together despite the old maxim that opposites attract.

Turns out that women prefer tall guys (at least 5 inches taller than them, apparently) and men like women with a high waist to hips ratio (narrow waist, wide hips, apparently a good indication of fertility). In some separate experiments, they took one woman and one guy and tried to improve their chances. In an interesting experiment they stuck the guy in a shop window and asked passing women several questions. The next day they put him in a nice suit and some sunglasses and repeated the exercise. His results were much higher when wearing the suit. In interviews, a lot of the women wanted men who weren’t obsessed with money, but findings seem to suggest that while they don’t want him to like it, they certainly want him to have it.

Anyway, it was nice to see that science still has no clue as to what love (or attraction) is all about and that it’s as complicated and enigmatic as we’ve always believed. No magic potions or easy answers just yet, which should keep Cosmo in business for the foreseeable future.