It’s hard to know if a first date had chemistry or if they were “the one.” However, research published in Psychological Science suggests that romantic interest depends on making a positive rather than an accurate first impression.
“Although distinctive accuracy may help perceivers rule out incompatible matches, it could also result in making overly critical judgments and being too quick to pass on potential partners. This perspective may be especially important to the current dating culture because a first date may not be given a second chance when other options are easily accessible through online dating,” wrote Lauren J. Human, PhD, Assistant Professor of McGill University, and colleagues.
The research team recruited a total of 569 single people to participate in one of two speed-dating studies. For 3 minutes, the participants engaged in 4 to 18 brief dates with the opposite sex. Afterwards, participants rated their romantic interest along with their dates’ physical attractiveness and personalities.
The researchers found that participants tended to have a positive impression of their date. But, when told to rate their dates in comparison to their ideal romantic partner, people were less likely to think positively of their dates. Having a positive first impression of their date diminished even further when participants tried to make out their date’s personality. People who did so reported feeling less attracted to their date.
Dates with extroverted personalities were rated with high romantic interest and an overall positive first impression. This romantic attraction persisted even when participants attempted to get an accurate impression of their date’s personality. This suggests that having an outgoing personality may allow some participants to overlook undesirable traits that might have hinted at the date’s true personality.
In contrast, people reported less attraction to dates with introverted personalities. The authors suggest that introverts may be harder-to-read, which makes it harder for their date to perceive their personality positively.
Based on the findings, first impressions can shape romantic interest and trying to infer a date’s personality can lead to a less-than-favorable first impression of the date. The authors advise “Accordingly, if progressing beyond a first date is the goal, perceivers may wish to bring their rose-colored glasses and leave their magnifying glass behind.”
The study, “Blind at First Sight: The Role of Distinctively Accurate and Positive First Impressions in Romantic Interest”, was authored by Lauren Gazzard Kerr, Hasagani Tissera, M. Joy McClure, John E. Lydon, Mitja D. Back, and Lauren J. Human.