Love may or may not be complicated, but one thing’s for sure — it’s certainly slow.
Here’s why: New research suggests men in heterosexual couples reduce their walking speed to match their romantic partner’s pace, a phenomenon not found when guys walk with female friends. (Via KTVD)
Researchers gathered 22 people — 11 men and 11 women who made 11 romantic couples. Researchers had them walk around a track under three conditions: alone, with their significant other and with a friend of the same and opposite sex. (Via PLOS One)
In general, men tend to walk faster than women because walking speed is determined by physical features. (Via Discovery)
Researchers found when men walked with their romantic partners, they slowed down by an average of 7 percent to match the woman’s speed. Women hardly ever change their pace, regardless of the male they’re walking with. (Via WLNY)
But don’t worry, ladies. Your platonic man friends won’t start leaving you in the dust.
Instead, researchers found that in friendship pairs, both men and women alter their walking speed to meet in the middle. However, female pairs walk 3 percent slower than their usual paces while male pairs practically race each other. (Via Jezebel)
So what’s the reason behind the change of pace? According to lead researcher Cara Wall-Scheffler, it’s about reproductive success — women who conserve energy have greater chances of producing and caring for offspring. (Via Daily Mirror)
“By men slowing down, the female reproduction is protected, and that’s not something that is trivial. There is so much data that when women are able to reduce the amount of energy they spend walking, they have more children.” (Via Los Angeles Times)
And there’s plenty of evolutionary research to back that hypothesis.
In hunter-gather societies that sometimes walked long distances, excessive energy expenditure could complicate a woman’s ability to conceive because of the reproductive system’s sensitivity to energy disturbances. (Via Time)
The researchers hope the findings will add another layer of information for interpreting fossil footprints of ancient societies.
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