Summary of:
Fletcher, G. J., Kerr, P. S., Li, P. C. N., & Valentine, K. A. (2014). Predicting romantic interest and decisions in the very early stages of mate selection: Standards, accuracy, and sex differences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(4), 540-550. doi: 10.1177/0146167213519481

Summary by Melanie Seyarto, Fred Labunikher, Sarah Arnold
For Dr. Mills’ Pscy 310 class, Fall, 2014

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between men and women in the context of speed dating with the intention of finding which measures generated or predicted romantic interest. Researchers predicted that perceptions of physical attraction/vitality would be the strongest indicators of romantic interest and desiring to go on another date. In terms of sex differences, researchers had three hypotheses. First, researchers predicted that men would overestimate their partner’s romantic interest in them while women would underestimate their partner’s romantic interest. Second, researchers hypothesized that women would be much choosier about their partners than men. Third, researchers predicted that women would fail to perceive their partners as matching their internal standards for a mate, which would in turn produce lower romantic interest and decrease the chance of meeting for another date.
One hundred heterosexual students (50 men and 50 women) from the University of Canterbury were selected for this study. Participants were between the ages of 18 and 30 years old and were not currently involved in a romantic relationship.
Researchers used a variety of different scales to determine various measures of the study. Researchers used the Partner Ideal Standards Scale to access how accurately participants perceived themselves as well as their partners. The scale included 3 dimensions: warmth/trustworthiness, attractiveness/vitality, and status/resources. The same Partner Ideal Standards Scale was used to examine participant’s minimum standards for their partners. Participants were asked to rate a potential partner using a 10-point scale where 1 represented well below average, 5 represented about average, and 10 represented above average. Participants were then asked what minimum rating was needed to encourage romantic involvement. The same scale and items were used to examine the extent participants felt that their partner either fell short of their minimum standards or exceeded their minimum standards. Ratings were made using a 7 point scale where 1 represented much lower than their minimum standard, 4 represented being about equal to their minimum standard, and 7 represented greatly exceeding their minimum standard. Participants were given a 7-point scale (1 being strongly disagree and 7 being strongly agree) to rate the statements: “I felt potential romantic chemistry with this person,” “I am interested in getting to know this person,” and “I would be interested in going on a date with this person”. The same questions were given to participants to measure the extent of romantic interest perceived from their conversation partners. Participants took the self-perception and minimum standards scales 4-10 days before coming in for a 10 minute conversation with a randomly assigned conversation partner. Subjects met in a room with a coffee table and had 2 cameras placed behind them and another camera to record a wide-angle shot. Participants were told they could discuss whatever they liked and that they would be asked if they wanted to share their contact information with their partner after the conversation. After the 10-minute conversation, participants answered the perceptions of partner, perception-standards matching, and romantic interest questionnaires and were asked if they wanted to forward their contact details to their partners. Two trained raters observed the recorded conversations and objectively evaluated each participant’s behavior using the same scales the participants used.
As predicted, researchers found that women were much less likely to want further contact with their conversational partners. Women also reported higher minimum standards and tended to rate their partners to have less attractiveness/vitality then themselves. Women also had the tendency to rate their partner’s level of attractiveness as matching their minimum standards to a lesser extent compared to men. Researchers found that women showed less romantic interest in their partners compared to men. Finally, researchers found that the attractiveness/vitality variable was most likely to determine romantic interest and the desire to make future contact. Researchers were able to show support for each of their hypotheses, which in turn support larger theories of evolution such as parental investment theory.

Outline
I. Introduction: Overview of Sex Differences in Mate Selection
A. Sex Differences in Selectivity & Evolutionary Theory
1. Parental Investment Theory
-Women invest more in offspring à more selective in mate choice
-Men invest less in offspring à less selective in mate choice
-Conflicting evidence from speed-dating research scenarios but most support theory
2. Error Management Theory
-Each sex may hold biased perceptions in accordance with Parental Investment Theory
-Males overestimate sexual interest, Females underestimate sexual interest
B. Accuracy, Functionality, & Perceptions
1. Physical Attractiveness more predictive of initial attraction than personal factors and interests
C. Goals of the Current Study
1. Investigate the predictors of romantic interest in men and women in speed- dating context
D. Hypotheses
1. Men would overestimate partner’s romantic interest in them; women will underestimate partner’s romantic interest in them
2. Women would be more selective about potential future partners than men
3. Women would see men as failing to meet their standards à lower romantic interest
II. Methods: Measuring Romantic Interest during Speed Dating
A. Participants
1. 100 participants (50 male/50 female)
2. University Students
B. Materials
1. Self and partner perceptions: Self-report indicating how they described themselves and their partners
2. Minimum standards: Self-report evaluating the person’s minimum standards of partner to consider romantic relationship
3. Perception-standards matching: Self-report ranking of the extent to which partner met that person’s minimum standard
4. Romantic attraction: Self-report indicating how much romantic interest participant had in partner
C. Procedure
1. Participants took self-reports before/after speed dating
2. Participants had 10 minute conversation with partner/Asked if they were interested in pursuing relationship
III. Results – Patterns of Romantic Interest
A. Main Findings & Sex Differences
1. Women less likely to want further contact with partners
2. Women reported higher standards & rated partners as less attractive
3. Women showed less romantic interest than men
4. Attractiveness determined whether participants pursued further contact
IV. Discussion – Support for Evolutionary Theory
A. Clarifies Previous Research
1. Lay judgments about initial attraction accurate (physical attractiveness)
2. Support for Parental Investment Theory from all main sex difference results
B. Limitations
1. Correlational – no causal evidence
2. Single interaction with one partner
C. Strengths/Conclusions
1. Sex differences are operating in mate-selection situations
2. Consistent with previous findings in evolutionary/social psychology

Critical Review
Informative Points
1. The author’s presented a thorough literature review at the beginning of the article which helped lay out a clear understanding for the goals of their study
2. The researcher’s not only found that women are more selective than men, but also that they tend to underestimate how interested men are in them. This is an interesting phenomenon in that it suggests that the sexes have adapted appropriate mechanisms that make them more or less likely to pursue a relationship.
3. The study demonstrates that sex differences are consistently manifested in typical male/female behavior and in real-life scenarios such as dating.
Critical Points
1. The researchers only investigated and discussed attraction and sex differences in the context of 10 minute dates. It would have been interesting to see if the same sex differences emerged if time intervals were varied. Will women be more/less likely to pursue another date if they are able to evaluate their partner for a longer time interval?
2. All participants were from New Zealand. Cultural Differences? We cannot generalize these results to people outside of New Zealand.
3. Sample influences/biases? Small sample size, all students from same University so there may have been underlying factors at play that the researchers did not account for. For example, some of the students may have known one another or the reputations of their partner.

Test Questions
Multiple Choice
1. A major focus of this study was:
A.) Sex differences in long-term attraction
B.) Sex differences in initial romantic interest
C.) Why women and men have different sex drives
D.) How women and men act in relationships

2. The researchers found that:
A.) Men and women are equally selective when it comes to choosing mates
B.) Men are more selective than women in pursuing a potential mate
C.) Women more often chose men who were high status
D.) Women were more selective in pursuing potential mates
3. The researchers predicted that:
A.) Men would overestimate their partner’s interest
B.) Women would fail to perceive their partners as matching their standards
C.) Women would be choosier than men about pursuing potential mate
D.) All of the Above
T/F
4. Women tend to overestimate how romantically interested a man is, while men tend to underestimate how romantically interested a women is (T/F)
5. The findings of the study supported all of the researcher’s hypotheses (T/F)
6. Physical attractiveness predicted romantic interest for both men and women (T/F)

KEY
1. B
2. D
3. D
4. F
5. T
6. T