Mental Floss

When it Comes to Dating, Does Having a 'Wingman' Actually Help?

Kate Horowitz

The wingman/wingwoman concept seems sound enough. You stand nonchalantly with a loyal friend who laughs uproariously at your jokes and makes you look good. But is that hottie at the end of the bar actually impressed?

It’s hard to say. As you’ll see in the video above from ASAP Science, the wingman concept is quite popular in the animal kingdom, especially among birds. It seems to work for them, and some studies have shown that this kind of cooperative courtship may work for human men, too. Sort of. One study suggested that we find people more attractive when they’re standing in a group, but that doesn’t mean we’re more likely to date them. And another concluded that women also use cooperative techniques—to get rid of undesirable suitors.

Inevitably, this comes with a list of caveats: First, we are not birds. Just because something works for another species doesn’t mean it will work for us. Cats lick their own butts but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for us to try it. Second, only a small fraction of studies on human courtship have focused on anything other than heterosexual relationships. And lastly, as the video so rightly concludes, playing manipulative games—even those with a vague basis in research—is not the best way to make a true connection.

Header image from YouTube // ASAP Science