Culture and Society

Does speed dating really work?
Answered by Bambi Turner and Science Channel
  • Bambi Turner

    Bambi Turner

  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Speed dating seems like the perfect solution for busy singles -- you attend a single event, where you can meet with a large number of potential mates for brief one-on-one interviews. If each party senses a spark, the event organizers provide them with contact information so that the potential couple can set up a date. Information on speed-dating results is limited, but the New York-based Easy Dates Company claims that 70 percent of men and 90 percent of women find at least one mutual match through this dating method [source: New York Easy Dates]. Despite these and other speed-dating success stories, researchers have little solid evidence on whether speed dating actually works.

    What scientists have found is that for the average person, there are some sure-fire techniques you can use to make this concept work for you. In a 2006 study published in the "Quarterly Journal of Economics," researchers found that men who attend speed-dating events place a heavy emphasis on appearance, and are much more likely than women to select dates based on looks. Women at these events are much more likely than men to select dates based on intelligence and how the women perceive that the men will be strong wage earners [source: Fismen et al]. This suggests that women who put extra effort into their appearance will have the best chances of scoring matches while speed dating. Men can maximize their results by focusing conversations on their more intellectual characteristics.

    In the same study, researchers also discovered that men were unlikely to select women they perceived as more intelligent or ambitious than themselves. Women didn't mind guys with ambition that exceeded their own, but they were much more likely than men to select dates from within their own race [source: Fismen et al].

    Early speed-dating research seemed to support the idea that women are much more selective then men, but more recent studies have shown that this isn't exactly the case. Typically at these events, women remain seated the entire time, and men switch seats every few minutes to visit with new women. When the men are the ones who stay seated, they end up being the more selective gender, and select a smaller number of women as possible matches [source: Grohol]. If you want to garner as many nods of interest as you possibly can, choose a speed-dating event where people of your gender will be the ones who remain seated.

    Despite the lack of long-term evidence about how speed-dating relationships fare, organizations have begun to use this technique for nonromantic matchmaking. Speed networking events have been held around the country to introduce businesspeople to one another. In 2011, the state of Rhode Island used a technique similar to speed dating when hiring school teachers. Johns Hopkins Hospital holds an annual Biomatch speed-dating event to match scientists with entrepreneurs, and Seattle farmers rely on speed-dating techniques to network with area chefs. In 2010, the Missouri Humane Society even held a speed-dating event designed to match potential pet owners with perfect furry friends.

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  2. Usually you will get asked out for a second date, at least by one person, maybe by more. A study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business revealed that the more speed dates a woman had in one night, the fewer men she chose to see again, but when the pool of men was smaller, she was more likely to want to meet a number of them for a second date. Going to a speed dating event of 10 couples might be better than going to one with 25 couples in such a case. As for whether speed dating actually leads to marriage, according to many of the sites, at least 50 percent of their clients do end up meeting someone, getting engaged and getting married. Many of the speed dating Web sites post wedding photos of couples who met through their services. HurryDate, which operates in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, says it has introduced hundreds and hundreds of engaged and married couples.

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