In the search for love, the conventional wisdom would have us believe that playing hard to get is a winning move.
Indeed, previously in online dating, sending a simple “Like” was enough to allow singles to subtly express their interest, akin to admiring from afar but only ever making eye contact across the room.
But the online dating app Tinder has recently taken this to a whole new level with the release of a new feature called the “Super Like”. By hitting the Super Like button, you are cutting to the chase, with Tinder’s CEO and co-founder Sean Rad saying: “Super Like is more like going up to someone and saying ‘hello’.”
Tinder’s theatrical trailer for the Super Like
But is allowing people to be up-front and brazen online the best way to find true love?
The science of ‘playing it cool’
Research suggests that when rating potential suitors online, women are particularly attracted to a man when they are 100% certain that he likes them back.
In psychology, this is known as reciprocity. Put simply, we like people who like us – and by the same token, we should Super Like those who Super Like us, right?
This research has also found that when women are kept in the dark about whether or not a man is interested, they find him even more attractive. This is because uncertainty breeds rumination – keeping your cards close to your chest increases how much people think about you and arouses their curiosity.
So while Tinder’s Super Like was designed to help users avoid beating around the bush, according to the science, it may actually be better to hold back and appear more aloof.
But it can’t be that simple, can it?
Hedging your bets
Arguably, another feature of online dating that attracts the time poor and forlorn, is its accessibility and the abundance of choice. But research indicates that when inundated with options, such as hundreds of potential mates, we are less likely to commit and more likely to remain unsatisfied with our choices.
A recent study found that playing hard to get is only an effective strategy when there is mutual romantic interest and investment. But in online dating, the surplus of perceived choice generally makes people noncommittal, especially in the early stages.
Alternatively, declaring one’s eagerness upfront can heighten feelings of romantic attraction, even if the target of our affections is not initially interested. So when dating online, it seems that sending a Super Like may be the way to go after all.
So when looking for a relationship online, do you Super Like or not? Well, the answer might also depend on who is making the first move.
She who hesitates is lost
One commonly held belief in dating is that men should be upfront and make the first move, but according to research, the Super Like may actually be less effective for them.
The results from another recent study found that women are suspicious if a man is initially too keen. This is because women are more likely to interpret a man’s over-enthusiasm as simply a strategy used for personal (usually sexual) gain.
On the other hand, in the first stages of dating, men generally prefer to be sure that they are in with a good chance. From a man’s perspective, women who are clearly keen and responsive are seen to be more feminine, and therefore more attractive.
Based on this evidence, it is women who may benefit from being more forward and sending out a Super Like to initiate conversation online. In contrast, men should be more reticent and extra cautious when using the new function.
When looking for love online, bait with science
On the topic of courting, Mark Twain once wrote: “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not with your brain.”
Drawn from popular belief, baiting with your heart may not completely hurt your chances at love. Indeed, every year, thousands of people around the globe, do manage to find love online.
But online dating isn’t always simply common sense. Understanding the science of attraction can further improve your chances. The question of whether to Super Like or not requires knowing how, when, where and why Cupid’s arrow will hit or miss.
The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
Authors: The Conversation