RALEIGH, NC–Preliminary data collected Monday from a focus group of friends indicates that new girlfriend Christine Carr is an unsuitable mate for Evan Lindblad.
"I was really excited for everyone to meet Christine," said Lindblad, 25, a graduate student in clinical psychology at North Carolina State University. "I was sure everyone would like her. But now that the numbers are in, I guess I really dropped the ball on this one."
After three weeks of dating, Lindblad held a small party at his home to introduce Carr to a random sampling of his closest friends, ages 22 to 27. Over the course of the evening, Lindblad presented the focus group with a variety of Carr-related queries, ranging from "What do you think of Christine?" to "Is she or isn't she everything I said?"
Lindblad also silently observed focus-group members, making careful note of their spontaneous reactions to Carr.
"At first, everyone was a little shy about speaking up," Lindblad said. "But sometime around 10:45 p.m., when a majority of the focus group was in the kitchen getting beer and Christine was in the other room, everyone really started voicing their opinions. I was right there with the clipboard, taking it all down."
According to Lindblad, Carr scored highest with his five friends from college, with 60 percent of them saying that they "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" with the statement that "Christine seems pretty nice." Carr also fared better with male constituents of the focus group, who were three times less likely to respond disparagingly to the question, "Did you see what she's wearing?"
After tallying Carr's score in the areas of likability, originality, and believability, Lindblad found that his new girlfriend had garnered a meager 23 percent overall approval rating from the group.
"It was clear that they simply were not enamored with Christine," Lindblad said. "I'm definitely pulling the brakes on bringing her to Eric Barrowman's Christmas party until I can fully assess this data."
In addition to the low approval rating, 11 focus-group members reported feeling "disinterested" or "bored" when speaking to Carr. Further, while in the kitchen, members compiled a list of her negative qualities they would like to see addressed.
"I did not respond well to that laugh," Lindblad friend and coworker Toni Evers said. "It was way too high. And I would've liked to have seen a little more knowledge about Evan's field of work."
Carr even scored poorly in areas in which Lindblad expected her to fare well.
"Christine is beautiful, no one can deny that. But feedback indicated that the group wanted to see someone with a 'more mature look,'" Lindblad said. "The midriff-baring shirt actually worked against her in there. Who would have guessed? Well, that's why we do these tests."
By evening's end, a full 84 percent of Lindblad's friends said they agreed with the statement, "Evan can do a lot better."
"I've been close with Evan for several years, and I respect him very much," Evers said. "But if he goes ahead with this relationship, my approval rating of him could drop significantly."
Surprised by Carr's poor showing, Lindblad turned to best friend Jake Hadler for his take on the results. Hadler told Lindblad that his pre-party hyping of Carr, in which he described her as "really funny and incredibly smart," may have backfired.
"I'd heard so many times from Evan how funny Christine was," Hadler said. "It was all, 'Christine said this,' and, 'Christine did that.' Well, at the party, I had a six-minute exchange with her to ascertain her wit quotient, and during that entire time, she didn't make one joke."
Had expectations not been so high, Carr may have fared better, focus-group participants conceded.
"After the huge build-up, we went in there expecting not merely to be pleased, but blown away," said Lindblad's coworker Glen Delk. "Had Lindblad simply billed Christine as 'great' or 'a really cool girl,' we'd have approached it differently. But he kept saying, 'This girl may be the one,' forcing us to evaluate her potential as a major love interest instead of a minor fling."
Despite the negative reviews, Lindblad is not yet ready to end the relationship.
"I'd hate to kill this so quickly after just one focus group," Lindblad said. "Maybe she can learn a little more about what I'm studying in school. And work on the laugh. That could get the numbers up."