Uncertainty may not increase romantic attraction

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(#1) By Tim Wilson on Wed 06/04/2014 12:13 pm CDT (3 years ago)
Comments from an author of the original study

Thanks for posting your interesting study. A couple of thoughts come to mind:

(1) I was interested to see that the participants in the uncertain condition liked the men as much as did participants in the "liked best" condition. True, this does not replicate our result that liking in the uncertain condition was HIGHER than in the "liked best" condition. Nonetheless, your results still suggests that there is some power to uncertainty. Logically, participants should like the men more when they are 100% certain that the men liked them the best than when they believe that there is only at 50% chance that the men liked them the best. That is what a "reciprocity effect" would predict. The fact that women liked the men equally in the "liked best" and "uncertain" conditions suggests that uncertainty may be having a positive effect, albeit not as strongly as in our study

(2) I suspect that an important (albeit unmanipulated) feature of our design was that participants completed a fairly long set of filler questionnaires before rating their attraction to the men. This allowed those in the uncertain condition to notice that thoughts about the men kept coming to mind, thereby inferring that they must like them. I'm only guessing, of course, but the fact that these filler tasks were omitted in the replication study may have been important.