Women were more likely to feel connected when men: Men reported feeling less connected when women did what the researchers called "hedging" -- saying things like "kind of," "sort of" and "maybe." In contrast, the men said they felt a spark when women talked about themselves, using words like “I,” “me,” “myself.” (In fact, the researchers suggest that it may be a bad sign for a man's date if the woman is asking a lot of questions about the man.
“We found that questions were used by women to keep a lagging conversation going,” they wrote.) The researchers looked not just at what people said but also how they said it.
They found that men and women in the study actually altered the pitch of their voice when on a good first date -- basically, taking on a more "masculine" or "feminine" voice when speaking to someone they were interested in.
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.
They were then asked to rate on a scale of one to 10 whether they thought each person was awkward, friendly, flirtatious or assertive, and the answers compared to the language used by each participant.
From the data the team were able to work out the most successful speech strategies for dating.
“When it comes to speed dating the women are the deciders,” said Dan Jurafsky, professor of linguistics and computer science at Stanford University.