Enter the maze

Romantic songs and the dating game

Rose on keys of a piano

If you struggle to get dates it might just mean that you play the wrong music!

A team of French researchers has shown that playing the right music before asking for a date can increase a person's seductive powers.

Many studies have shown that media can affect our behaviour. Violent video games or music with aggressive lyrics can increase aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. Do we also act differently when listening to romantic songs? That is what the team from the Bretagne-Sud and Paris-Sud Universities decided to find out. In a previous experiment, they had shown how romantic songs played as background music in a flower shop encouraged men to spend more money. They decided to design a new experiment to test whether songs with romantic lyrics would influence the dating behaviour of young single women.

First they had to set up the experiment. Based on the answers of participants to music questionnaires, they selected a 'neutral' song ("L'heure du the" from Vincent Delerm) and a romantic song ("Je l'aime a mourir" from Francis Cabrel) to use in the experiment. They also asked a group of women to rate the physical attractiveness of twelve men. For the next stage, they wanted someone not too attractive, but not too repulsive either, so they chose 'Antoine', the man whose score was nearest the average for the twelve.

Over 80 women aged between 18 and 20 took part in the main experiment. First, each woman listened to background music in a waiting room. She was then invited into a separate room to discuss the differences between two food products with a young man (actually Antoine). This was done in the presence of the experimenters but they then left asking the man and woman to wait for a few minutes. This gave Antoine the opportunity to try a straight-forward chat-up line: "My name is Antoine, as you know. I find you very good looking and I was wondering if you'd agree to give me your telephone number. I'll call you and we could have a drink together next week." (It presumably sounds very seductive in French!)

Now the intriguing bit. It turned out that when the romantic song had been playing in the waiting room Antoine's chances of getting a telephone number doubled. 52% of the women who heard the Cabrel song agreed to give their number compared to 28% of those who heard the 'neutral' song from Delerm.

Women gave out their telephone numbers more often if they'd been listening to romantic music.

These findings fit a general model proposed back in 2006 that aims to explain the effects of media exposure. It suggests that media exposure in general (not only violent or aggressive media) affects people's internal states. 'Pro-social' media (as opposite to antisocial ones) should favour pro-social results.

Why can our behaviours be influenced by music? Certain types of music may induce positive 'affects'. In psychology, an 'affect' is the experience of having a feeling or emotion. Our better receptivity to declarations of love is because romantic songs induce positive affects - they give us a positive experience and that makes us susceptible to positive behaviour. Is it the romantic meaning of the lyrics or the way the instrumental music was composed that matters most? Answering that will take some new studies. In the meantime if you are single, then pay attention to the background music and it may well be love at first sight...

Parts of this article were translated from the French from: www.insoliscience.fr/?Les-chansons-romantiques-le-truc [EXTERNAL]