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  • Writer's pictureNay

Nay Says: Speed Dating

Social psychologists Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick from Northwestern University discuss the history, importance, and implications of speed-dating.

Speed dating was founded by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo to encourage Jewish singles to meet in Los Angeles, California. The original idea was for people to have brief interactions, and state whether they were interested in seeing a particular person again. If they matched, they were provided with information and opportunity to meet again.

Researchers noticed the value in speed dating, and decided to use it as a way of understanding attraction between individuals. Most research prior to this format, often look at attraction from one person’s perspective only. Speed dating allowed researchers to get a better sense of real relationship interactions.

Here are a few important things to takeaway:

• Speed dating research provides people with a lot of opportunities to form relationships, and gives researchers a lot of data.

For example, if Michael is one of ten guys, and he gets to speak to 10 different women. Michael now has a lot of opportunity to connect with someone, and the researcher has 100 different dyadic data information, with 10 stemming from Michael alone.

• Speed dating may foster different personality behaviors depending on the environment of the speed dating scene.

A bar versus a church for example.

• Romantic attraction is not guaranteed from speed dating.

But it does provide insight on initial attraction.

• Because speed dating appears to be highly reflective of real initial social interactions, other industries have utilized the method to understand non-romantic interactions, such as speed-interviewing and speed-networking.

Nay Says

Finkel and Eastwick summarize the concept and procedure of speed dating well. I think people who are interested in participating in speed dating will find this information rewarding, as well as researchers who are interested in understanding dyadic interactions. What makes it most appealing to me, is the data.

With so much relationship data, we could understand more than just who people choose from this situation. We could understand desirability, word usage, physical gestures, eye contact, reciprocity, and ambivalence to name a few, all from a brief interaction between pairings. I find that very useful, and I think those who are single and dating will too.

Imagine (as Finkel and Eastwick have done in other studies) we find patterns from these speed dating interactions, we could potentially offer suggestions or even interventions on how certain people should try to engage in dating settings. With this information, people can become more confident, and possibly less ambivalent in dating. Awareness is always key.

For more information about this study:

Finkel, E. J., & Eastwick, P. W. (2008). Speed-dating. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(3), 193-197.


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