Want to know if you're compatible with a guy? Count up how many times you and he use the words and, but, and for in a conversation. If the number of times he says those words is close to the number of times you say them, there's a high chance that you're a good match. That's what researchers from Northwestern University are claiming. In what might be the most random-seeming study on relationship compatibility, two professors looked at women and men's use of about 180 small words (personal pronouns, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and the like), and discovered that using those words with a similar frequency in conversation is an indicator of romantic success, according to an article on The New York Times's Well blog.
By Zoë Ruderman
We were less than convinced by the findings. A similar taste in music? Sure. The same sense of humor? Definitely. But the same propensity to drop the word of in a conversation? Uh, we wouldn't put money on a couple based on that. Then we read how they conducted the experiment and we have to say that, while we're not about to start choosing a guy based on the fact that we both say the about five times a minute while talking, we're intrigued. They observed 187 subjects speed dating and correctly predicted which couples would be a match at the end of the event. They also read instant message conversations and again, made accurate predictions, this time about who would be together after three months and who wouldn't. And lastly, the team analyzed letters between famous couples, such as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and the similarities or lack of similarities of small word use in their exchanges backed up the researchers' conclusions.
The researchers set up an online diagnostic tool and I tried it out (despite being nervous that it would tell me that my boyfriend and I were doomed). You submit an email or Gchat conversation (with your writing in one box, his in the other), fill in how old you both are, what type of relationship you're in, and how in synch you think you are with the person. Then out pops your LSM (Language Style Matching) score. I put in a few short email exchanges and my boyfriend Kris and I got a 0.86. I was told, "Your LSM score is slightly above average. Most LSM scores for emails range between .75 and .95, with an average around .84." Hmm, just slightly above average? Though they did add this disclaimer: "Do not take this feedback about LSM too seriously."
Related: 7 Scary Truths About Getting Engaged
You can try out the diagnostic tool here. Let us know your score in the comments section.
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