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What to say in speed dating

After the date, the grad students reported how well they "clicked" with their partners for roughly 1,000 four-minute conversations.

Now, will you ever watch this scene the same way again?Maybe men and women are just being polite and acting out certain dating "rituals" -- essentially, performing the role of "man or woman on a date." This may sound strange, but some of their findings bear this out -- for example, how men who felt a spark lowered their voices to make themselves sound more masculine.These ideas stem from the theories of Erving Goffman, a 20th-century sociologist who was famous (for a sociologist, at least) for describing human interactions as a kind of performance.What distinguishes a good first date from a bad one?It's pretty much all on display in the famous double-date scene from "When Harry Met Sally." Sally and her terrible date firmly disagree about important topics.They also spoke at a higher pitch -- basically, adopting a more feminine voice -- and varied their pitch and volume, practices that reflect their excitement and interest in the conversation.

Overall, the men's behavior varied a lot less than the women's did, as you can see from the chart below.

There's the front stage -- how we present ourselves to the world, which we adapt for different situations -- and then the back stage of what we really think during these interactions.

“Certain gender ideals are staged in speed-dating events," the researchers say.

After the "dating" sessions conclude, participants take notes and score or rank each of the people they were paired up with.

When two people express a shared interest in each other, they then have the opportunity to exchange contact information and further pursue the relationship on their own terms.

As the researchers note, that may give heterosexual women the upper hand, at least when it comes to first dates.