If you were set up on a blind date and seven out of 10 mutual friends told you the guy’s a catch, you’d probably think, ‘Hey, this could work out,’ right? Well what if three out of 10 people said he’s kind of dud?Embed from Getty Images
They mean the same thing, but the first description has a positive spin, while the second has a negative one. And according to new research, you’ll probably feel better about this dude in the first scenario as opposed to the second. Researchers found that negatively framed descriptions influence you more than positively framed descriptions, especially when women are doing the evaluating, according to a recent study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
In a series of three experiments, a total of 696 undergraduate students answered on a scale of one to nine how likely they’d be to date a certain person, either long-term or short-term. Their potential date’s kindness, intelligence, ambition, earning potential, attractive face, and attractive body were described with either a positive or negative spin, just like you saw above.
Overall, both genders gave higher ratings to prospective dates when they were framed positively, but that was even more so the case for women. What that means: When it comes to potential mates, people are more influenced by negative information—especially women.
Why are the ladies more affected? It probably has to do with something called the parental investment theory, says lead study author Gad Saad, Ph.D., of Concordia University in Montreal. From an evolutionary standpoint, this theory says that women have a bigger obligation when it comes to getting pregnant and raising a child (see: nine months of carrying them around and everything that comes after that) and they subconsciously look for more stable partners because of this. And even though a lot has changed since our cavewoman days, our minds are still operating according to that evolutionary theory, says Saad.
OK, so you can’t exactly rewire your brain. But, you can take a step back and reconsider a potential date if you feel like you’re being too swayed by your friends’ opinions. After all, your mind might be playing tricks on you when it comes to how you interpret their reviews. So maybe it’s worth it to go out on the blind date and form your own opinion before asking what your friends think. And keep in mind this handy list of the three traits that tell you the most about a potential love interest.