How you dress, whether you smile and what you say are among the things that can play a role in determining whether your first date is going to lead to a second date. But there are other more subtle factors that can influence your date’s opinion of you.
A recent study led by Michael Slepian from Tuft’s University shows that our assessment of a person as masculine or feminine may be influenced by what we touch while making the assessment.
In the study the researchers exposed participants to gender-neutral faces and told them to determine whether the face belonged to a man or a woman. One group of participants were given a soft ball to squeeze while making the assessments while another group were given a hard ball.
The participants who were given a soft ball to squeeze consistently judged the gender-neutral faces to be female, whereas the subjects who were handed a hard ball judged the faces they were looking at to be male.
The researchers found the same effect in participants who were asked to write down their answer while pressing hard on the paper or pressing very lightly. The subjects who were told to press hard judged the gender-neutral faces to be male, whereas the subjects who were asked to press very lightly judged the faces to be female.
What we touch while looking at a face can apparently affect how masculine or feminine we consider a person we are looking at.
While there are exceptions, most men are get attracted to women they consider feminine, and most women get attracted to men they consider masculine.
We can extract some useful dating advice from these lessons. If a woman gets to decide the details of a date, she should choose a place with soft pillows or mattresses, for instance, a cozy cafe or restaurant that offers a comfortable “squeezy” sitting arrangement. The best food for the date would be soft food, such as soft pita bread with dip or deserts. Wine glasses are better than beer bottles. Though wine classes aren’t exactly soft, they may simulate a woman’s soft forms. For clothing the female dater should choose silky shirts or soft sweaters combined with a light skirt or pants. If kissing goodnight after the date, a soft kiss would be most likely to generate attraction.
The advice, of course, is different for men. If a man gets to decide the details of a date, he should choose a place with wooden chairs, for instance, an Irish pub or an old-fashioned steakhouse. The best food for the date would be hard food, such as steaks and baked potatoes or crispy pizzas. Beer bottles are better than wine bottles, as they come across perceptually as harder. For clothing, the male dater should choose jeans and a leather jacket. If kissing goodnight after the date, a hard kiss would be most likely to generate attraction.
Source: M. L. Slepian, M. Weisbuch, N. O. Rule, N. Ambady. Tough and Tender: Embodied Categorization of Gender. Psychological Science, 2010
Dr. Berit Brogaard ("Dr. Brit") has written since 1999 for publications such as "Journal of Philosophy,", "Journal of Biological Chemistry," "Consciousness and Cognition," "Cognitive Science," and "Journal of Medicine and Philosophy". In her academic research, she specializes in rare brain conditions such as synesthesia and blindsight, brain intervention and emotional regulation. From 2007 to 2009 she was a research fellow at the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University. She has D.M.Sci. in neuroscience from the Danish National Hospital and the University of Copenhagen and a Ph.D. in philosophy from State University of New York at Buffalo.