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Guys, can’t get a date? Try changing the background music

Listening to a romantic love song makes women more likely to agree to a date request from a guy they’ve just met, according to a new study by a team of French (of course!) researchers.

Listening to a romantic love song makes women more likely to agree to a date request from a guy they’ve just met, according to a new study by a team of French (of course!) researchers.

In fact, the study, which was published last month in the journal Psychology of Music, found that women who had just listened to the love song were twice as likely to say yes to the date than women who had listened to a popular song with “neutral” lyrics.

Now, before you think that it’s only women who are so easily swayed, let me point out that last year the same team of researchers found that men — but not women — spent more money in a flower shop when romantic songs were playing in the background.

I had to smile as I read the description of how this ingenious little study was designed. First, using a series of questionnaires, the researchers came up with a “romantic” song,  “Je l’aime a mourir” by songwriter Francis Cabrel (you can listen to it here — and, yes, it is lovely), and a “neutral” song, “L’heure du the” by the songwriter Vincent Delerm (listen here).

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The researchers then recruited 87 young French women, aged 18 to 20, who had declared on a questionnaire that, among other things, they “had nobody in their life” at the time. The women were told they were going to be evaluating organic food products.

When each woman arrived at the lab, she was put in a waiting room alone for three minutes, during which either “Je l’aime a mourir” or “L’heure due the” was played in the background. The woman was then sent into the experiment room, where a 20-year-old young man — purposely selected because another group of women had deemed him as being of average attractiveness (!) — asked her to taste and discuss the differences between an organic cookie and the same cookie made with non-organic ingredients. That discussion lasted for five minutes.

The young man was not told what the experiment was about (nor, I assume — and hope — why he had been selected for his role), but he was instructed to ask each young woman for a date in the two or three minutes immediately after the cookie-eating interaction. Here’s how the researchers describe this part of the study:

During this phase, the confederate [the young man] was instructed to smile and to say to the participant [the young woman]: “My name is Antoine, as you know. I think you are very nice and I was wondering if you would give me your phone number. I’ll phone you later and we can have a drink together somewhere next week.” After making his request, the confederate was instructed to wait 10 seconds and to gaze and smile at the participant. If the participant accepted the confederate’s solicitation, the confederate wrote her phone number down. If the participant refused, the confederate was instructed to say, “Too bad. Anyway, it’s not a problem,” and smile again.

(You’ve got to wonder what the young man thought when the researchers instructed him to do this. You’ve also got to wonder if the lucky young man was allowed to keep the phone numbers. Probably not.)

Amazingly, 23 of the 44 women (52.2 percent) who had heard the love song in the waiting room handed over their phone number to the young man compared to 12 of the 43 women (27.9 percent) who had listened to the neutral song.

Guys, I think there’s a take-home message here.