That love lore doesn't come from Dear Abby (though she might agree). Instead, it's from researchers, including Eli Finkel, PhD, of Northwestern University.
"Romantic desire comes in two distinct flavors: selective and unselective," Finkel says in a Northwestern news release. "If your goal is to get someone to notice you, the unselective flavor is going to fail, and fast."
To reach this conclusion, Finkel and colleagues set up four-minute "speed dates" for 156 single undergraduates, roughly half of whom were women.
Each student went on nine to 13 speed dates with suitors of the opposite sex.
Immediately after each speed date, they rated their date's romantic likeability, sexual attractiveness, and perceived selectivity in choosing matches at the speed-dating event.
Match or Miss
When the students went home, they visited a web site and checked "yes" or "no" to indicate whether they wanted to meet their speed dates again. They could vote "yes" for as many dates as they wished.
If they and their speed date both voted "yes," they received each other's contact information.
Students who voted "yes" for most of their speed daters didn't get many matches.
But selective speed daters -- those who found a few needles in the haystack -- tended to hear "yes" back from the rare person that interested them.
"People who like everyone, unlike in a friendship context where they generally are liked in return, may exude desperation in a romantic context," Finkel says in a Northwestern news release.
The study is scheduled for publication in Psychological Science's April edition.
SOURCES: Eastwick, P. Psychological Science, April 2007. News release, Northwestern University.
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang