A new study has found that the advice of "playing it cool" with potential partners may be terrible if you want them to be attracted to you sexually.
Psychologists at the University of Rochester and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya found that people were more sexually attracted to potential partners that appeared to reciprocate their romantic interest.
The team found that people who were uncertain about their potential partners' interest in them viewed those potential partners as less sexually attractive. Trying to play it cool, it seems, is a terrible idea if you want somebody to find you appealing.
Another recent study on attractiveness with surprising results.
The study comprised of six interrelated studies published as one in Computers In Human Behavior. For the first, the researchers looked at 51 women and 50 men, who all identified as single and heterosexual, aged 19-31. They told the volunteers that they would be chatting online with another participant who was in another room (in reality another researcher).
At the end of the chat, they were told they were allowed to send one more message to their potential partner. Some of the participants were told their partner had left a message for them, and others were told that there was no message waiting for them.
They were then shown their prospective partner and asked to rank their sexual desirability and how much they'd be interested in meeting them IRL in future. The group who had been told there was no message left for them (to create uncertainty about any future relationship) ranked their potential partner as less sexually attractive than those who had a message waiting.
Of course, they were all shown the same photo of someone of the opposite sex, but had ranked them differently regardless.
“People experience higher levels of sexual desire when they feel confident about a partner’s interest and acceptance,” study co-author Harry Reis, said in a statement. “People may protect themselves from the possibility of a painful rejection by distancing themselves from potentially rejecting partners."
The first four studies tested the idea of relationship uncertainty affecting a potential partner's appeal, while the last two tested if this held within an established relationship, revealing the higher regard for a partner, the lower the uncertainty about them, thus the more appealing they appear.
Sexual desire may “serve as a gut-feeling indicator of mate suitability that motivates people to pursue romantic relationships with a reliable and valuable partner," said lead author Gurit Birnbaum. "Inhibiting desire may serve as a mechanism aimed at protecting the self from investing in a relationship in which the future is uncertain.”
So people may give you advice about playing it cool, but if you want them to be sexually or romantically interested in you, that might not be the best move.