- Modern Love: Scientific Insights from 21st Century Dating
- Speed Dating Study – Social Interaction & Perception Lab
- From Genius to Madness
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Men almost always rate a larger percentage of women as a "yes" than women do men, and, according to this paper, this is a fairly robust finding that generalizes over many different contexts. The usual explanation of this phenomena is based on evolutionary psychology: If there were a biological, genetic basis for this tendency, it should be difficult to come up with an experimental setup in which women are less selective and men are more selective.
However, that's not the case at all. This study demonstrates that a small, seemingly trivial change in the speed dating ritual results in a partial reversal of the normal results. Well, several experiments have shown that when shoppers are presented with either an extensive or limited amount of potential consumer choices e. It is not that surprising that our decision making system breaks down when the human brain is confronted with too many options.
Modern Love: Scientific Insights from 21st Century Dating
Similar evidence is found in other non-human animals. In essence, heuristics are decision-making tools that save effort by ignoring some information; and thus, their essential function is to reduce and simplify the processing of cues and information from our environment. In other words, less is more. In particular, prior research by Lenton and Francesconi suggests that when the number of potential speed-dating partners goes up, people tend to increasingly rely on heuristics in their decision making strategies.
For example, the authors found that in speed-dating events where the amount of potential partners to choose from is relatively large, people predominantly pay attention to information that is easily accessible, such as age, height, body mass index, etc. Because of their simplicity, heuristics have long been viewed as inferior to rational thought.
In particular, people tend to assume that it is always a good thing to think long and hard about everything, consciously deliberating different potential outcomes and rationally weighing different pros and cons. However, an emerging field of research is questioning this traditional view. Gerd Gigerenzer recently summarized more than a decade of research concerning the role of heuristics in human decision making.
In short, we use all kinds of heuristics on a daily basis and apparently we do so for a good reason. For example, in three studies predicting stock market performance, portfolios of stocks based on recognition a constructed set of the most recognized stocks outperformed on average managed funds, chance portfolios and stock expert predictions.
The site was launched in purely for users to rate each other on how attractive or, obviously, not they were.
Speed Dating Study – Social Interaction & Perception Lab
Later, the site added an online dating component. Consistent with previous research, this study, published in Psychological Science , found that people with similar levels of physical attractiveness indeed tend to date each other, with more attractive people being more particular about the physical attractiveness of their potential dates. Compared to females, males are more influenced by how physically attractive their potential dates are, but less affected by how attractive they themselves are when deciding whom to date.
But these findings about gender bias in attraction are being challenged in other studies — more on this later. Assessing potential partners online hinges on other users being truthful in their descriptions.
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Psychological scientists have turned to online dating to examine how truthful people are in their descriptions of themselves, both with themselves and to others. Online daters walk a fine line — everyone wants to make themselves as attractive as possible to potential dates, making deception very tempting. Catalina Toma, Jeffrey Hancock both at Cornell University , and Nicole Ellison Michigan State University examined the relationship between actual physical attributes and online self-descriptions of online daters in New York.
They found that lying was ubiquitous, but usually fairly small in terms of magnitude. Men tended to lie about height and women tended to lie about weight. Another modern dating innovation may provide a better solution: Since then, speed dating has spread around the world, giving millions of singles a chance at love. It also gives savvy researchers an unprecedented chance to study attraction in situ. This hunch was confirmed by a speed dating outing with several other Northwestern colleagues, and the researchers embarked a new track of speed dating work.
No word on whether the outing was a success from other standpoints. As Finkel and Eastwick point out in a study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science , the popularity of speed dating allows the collection of large, real world samples across cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic levels. The speed dating design also lets researchers to study both sides of a dyadic process.
From Genius to Madness
Also, speed dating allows for exploring reciprocity effects. A Psychological Science article Eastwick et al. Speed dating empowers researchers to study interactions as they happen, rather than post-hoc reports. It also allows for testing actual versus stated preferences. One speed dating study showed that stated preferences do not match actual preferences and called into question the gender biases in attraction that have been well-documented elsewhere i. Speed dating studies also allow researchers to study the implications of simple changes in dating paradigms.
This idea holds true at speed dating events, where women generally stay seated while the men rotate.
This set-up stems from vague notions of chivalry, but also from more mundane purposes — according to one speed dating company executive, women tend to have more stuff with them, like purses, and are therefore less efficient movers. Could this set-up in itself affect attraction? Turns out that it can. In most speed dating scenarios as in most attraction scenarios in general women are more selective. But, when women rotated, this effect disappeared and they became less selective than the men.
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Research into online matchmaking and speed dating is providing valuable insight into the human quest for romance, and this is only the beginning. Most of the research in this area to-date focuses on dating behavior of heterosexuals in the United States. More work is necessary to determine if the findings so far also apply to international daters and to understand the dynamics of homosexual pairings.
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Emerging methods may also bring new insight into dating dynamics. Finkel and Eastwick have begun using a coding scheme to study exactly what participants are saying during their dates, allowing them to potentially code what exactly makes a date great or awkward.