According to a study by Erin R. Whitchurch and Timothy D. Wilson of the University of Virginia, and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard, uncertainty may be one of the greatest aphrodisiacs.
The report, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not...Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction", says that women are apt to find men who might like them more attractive than men who definitely do.
"Uncertainty affects our thoughts in general," Whitchurch, who led the research as part of her dissertation, said. "If you can get a person to think about you, you can make that person think they're attracted to you. Uncertainty is one way to get them to think about you."
This information may seem pretty basic, but most people have experienced this at one point or another, especially during adolescence. Those years in particular are filled with hours spent speculating on whether or not your crush likes you back. So much so, that oftentimes it became less about whether or not you had feelings for him, and more about if he liked you.
The experiment was conducted on female undergraduates, although Whitchurch believes, she said, the findings would hold true for men as well. The female subjects were told that the experiment was testing whether Facebook could be used as a dating site.
One group of women were told that four phony male profiles belonged to men that liked them the most. A second group was told they were liked an average amount. A third group was ambiguously told that they were liked either the most or an average amount by the men.
The results: Women did tend to like the men who found them most attractive. The men who were deemed most attractive of all, however, were the ones who were ambiguous on whether they liked the women a lot or just an average amount.
I definitely appreciate Whitchurch's inclusion of her opinion that the findings would "hold true for men as well", because it seems like this is more of an issue with the human condition, and less an issue with any specific gender.
Most people want what they can't have and if they're not sure if they can have something, oh the joys of ruminating and investigating 'til they get an answer.
Study: Romance fueled by uncertainty of relationship [Daily Caller]