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Making the Connection: Social Bonding in Courtship Situations

Daniel A. McFarland, Dan Jurafsky and Craig Rawlings
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 118, No. 6 (May 2013), pp. 1596-1649
DOI: 10.1086/670240
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670240
Page Count: 54
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Making the Connection: Social Bonding in Courtship Situations
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Abstract

Sociologists have long argued that the force of a social bond resides in a sense of interpersonal connection. This is especially true for initial courtship encounters when pairs report a sense of interpersonal chemistry. The authors explore the process of romantic bonding by applying interaction ritual theory, extended and integrated with methods from computational linguistics, to the study of courtship encounters and, specifically, heterosexual speed dating. The authors find that the assortment of interpersonal moves associated with a sense of connection characterizes a conventionalized form of initial courtship activity. The game is successfully played when females are the point of focus and engaged in the conversation and males demonstrate alignment with and understanding of the female. In short, initial heterosexual courtship encounters are associated with a sense of bonding when they reflect a reciprocal asymmetrical performance in which differentiated roles are mutually coordinated.

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