London, Dec 3 : Is the girl of your dreams playing hard to get? Well, don't panic, for there's a possibility that she's testing how helpful you will be in bringing up a child, at least that's what a new study says.
The study by a team of biologists and mathematicians at the University of Bristol, found that women in general play hard to get in order to determine how helpful a potential mate will be in raising a child. The researchers worked out the theory from extensive studies of mating birds.
In their opinion, the researchers think that the female of any species makes use of this technique so that men can prove themselves more worthy than their rivals.
However, the theory works only when there are a large number of males to choose from and where there is a mixture of different types of men. The theory becomes redundant in cultures where all men are caring or all men are uncaring.
Professor John McNamara, co-author of the paper, reached to all the above conclusions after he had put all the available data into a mathematical model.
He said that coyness and helpfulness tend to encourage each other, but still there are some males who have learned to cheat.
"The more coy females are, the more helpful men will be; and the more men around, the more coy women are," The Telegraph quoted him as saying.
He added: "This only works if there is a mixture of helpful and unhelpful men. If men are all the same the less effective this strategy will be. In the real world it seems females use coyness to select men by seeing how the male behaves in the different situations.
"Eventually she will decide 'I am going to have a child with this male' or 'I am going to reject him and find a better one'. Of course there are men who have mastered the ability of conning women into thinking they are helpful."
In fact, he also claimed that the research could pave the way for a model that could work out the optimal amount of coyness for a woman to use in choosing a male.
According to the research, in many animal species, females will benefit if they can secure their mate's help in raising their young.
The study added: "We predict that a high degree of coyness should be associated with a high encounter rate during mate search, with an intermediate rate of information gain during mate inspection and with an intermediate dependence of reproduction on male help. Strongly biased sex ratios, however, preclude coyness."
McNamara said that the study was also based on the female being able to make the choice of mate, which was not always the case in all species.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.