Psychology of marriage proposals is to come under scrutiny

What does your marriage proposal say about you?

Well, the psychology behind successful and failed marriage proposals could now provide the answer.

This is the subject of a new study at the University of Victoria by Lisa Hoplock, a graduate student in Psychology.

Having previously conducted research into the psychology of romantic relationships, she now plans to examine the previously unexplored topic of marriage proposals.

“How can we better understand this ritual that takes place?” she said. Lisa plans to look at the psychology behind extravagant public declarations as well as more traditional proposals.

She believes that extravagant public declarations – at sporting events, in shopping malls, restaurants, and similar locations – may be motivated by uncertainty on the part of the proposer, and she cautions against such gestures.

She said: “If you’re not sure what the person’s response will be and you think they’ll be pressured into saying yes if it’s in front of thousands of people, that’s not the case.

“Sometimes these people do say no and they’ll run away.”

Evidence suggests that proposals that incorporate elements, such as the man going down on one knee, are more likely to be successful, she added.

Hoplock suggests couples discuss their relationship and their possibly differing attitudes to marriage before one party considers making a proposal.

“You can still keep (the proposal itself) a surprise,” she said.