Speed dating and other ways of meeting people

Even if meet-and-greet matching events might seem like the most efficient way to comb through many options at once, a wealth of data reveals that the context in which we make a choice weighs heavily on the outcome.

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These rules of thumb are evolutionarily adaptive, however, and not necessarily a bad thing.

Millions of years of experimentation with different heuristics, conducted in a range of environments, have led us to learn which ones are most effective.

One speed-dating company in New York City, for example, holds a gathering almost every day.

Last year online coupon company Groupon hosted the world’s largest speed-dating event, with 414 attendees crammed into a restaurant in Chicago.

They make split-second decisions on matters of the heart, creating a pool of information on one of the more ineffable yet vital questions of our time—how we select our mates.

The concept of rapid-fire dating has gained tremendous popularity, spreading to cities all over the world.Start-up companies now meet with investors, pregnant couples interact with doulas, and homeless dogs court potential owners, all using the speed-dating format.Some years ago I caved to my curiosity and tried it out myself. When the little buzzer went off after three minutes, I often found myself still trying to explain to my bedazzled dating partner why my last name has four syllables (it is Dutch).Speed dating, by comparison, offers the opportunity to chat up many eligible singles in rapid succession.In a typical speed-dating event, participants pair off at individual tables and chairs for a few minutes of conversation.Prior research by Lenton and Francesconi provides some insight into why people might struggle with speed dating.

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