In this corner stands the guy who is giving you all the right signs. He is interested in getting to know you, available and has made it clear he wants you. And on the other side of the ring is the guy you’ve always wondered about. He sends some signals that he’s into you but has never confirmed them so you could be sure. So which man will fight for your affection? According to recent research, Mr. Questionable will almost always be the one that grabs your heart.
Researchers conducted an experiment with three control groups of women using Facebook as a dating site. The researchers told the women that men at other colleges had viewed their profile and ranked their interest in dating. Though the profiles were real, the men never ranked the women’s profiles. Instead the researchers told the women in each group three different messages. The women in Group 1 were told that the men had rated them highly, the women in Group 2 were told the men had rated them average, and the women in Group 3 were told that the men had rated them somewhere between like and average.
The results of the experiment? The women in Group 3, thought the uncertain men were more attracted to them than the women in Groups 1 and 2. As the study put it:
“Women were more attracted to men when there was only a 50% chance that the men liked them best than when there was a 100% chance that the men liked them the best.”
Our willingness to fall for the uncertain type is what 1960’s psychologists described as the “self-perception effect.” The theory is that we tell ourselves what to believe by observing our own behavior. In other words, “I keep checking to see that he’s texted me back. I guess I am falling for him.”
As explained by the researchers involved in the study:
“When people are certain that a positive event has occurred, they begin to adapt to it. When people are uncertain about an important outcome, they can hardly think about anything else.”
The danger with the self-perception effect is that women can apply it and end up waiting and doting on all types of men, whether logical or not. It explains why so many of us ignore the guy who’s putting it out there and then fall for the men playing hard to get, but mostly just plain games.
The way I see it, this whole self-perception effect can have women walking around looking like fools, or worse, ending up hurt. My take on this: I truly believe that if a man wants you, you won’t have much to decode. Either he wants you or he doesn’t, either it is or it isn’t. And if it is, that man will make sure he finds a way to let you know.