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Playing Hard to Get May Get the Girl, Study Finds
Date:2/14/2011

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- With Valentine's Day here, men who are looking to make a love connection on Internet dating sites should initially keep women guessing about just how interested they are, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard found that when college women first viewed the Facebook profiles of four male undergrads, they were most attracted to the men when they weren't sure whether the men liked them a lot or just an average amount.

"The general assumption is that there is something about the challenge that increases attraction," said study author Erin Whitchurch, who conducted the research while she was a graduate student in the department of psychology at the University of Virginia. "However, I attribute the effect to increased thought about the person."

"Previous research has demonstrated that uncertainty increases thoughts about the uncertain situation," Whitchurch explained. "For example, think how hard it is not to think about results of a medical exam you are waiting for. In the case of attraction uncertainty though, people find themselves thinking about [someone], but rather than recognize it's because of the uncertainty, they assume it is because they must be attracted to the person," she said.

For the study, Whitchurch and her colleagues recruited 47 female University of Virginia undergraduates to take part in a study on the effectiveness of Facebook as an online dating Web site. Each participant was told that several male students from two collaborating universities had viewed her profile, along with those of about 20 other female college students, and had rated the degree to which they thought they would get along with each woman if they got to know her better.

After randomly dividing the participants into three groups, the researchers showed each woman four fictitious Facebook profiles that port
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