As you might imagine, I did not find the love of my life.I made some beginner’s mistakes; however, I am not alone in having struggled with speed dating.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).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.Speed-dating events can promote a particular decision-making style that might not always work in our favor.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.
This effect was particularly strong when individuals were faced with a large number of partners.
In essence, heuristics are ingrained rules of thumb that allow us to save effort by ignoring some of the information available to us when we evaluate our options.
For example, in those events with a relatively large number of participants, the researchers discovered that people attend predominantly to easily accessible features, such as age, height, physical attractiveness, and so forth, rather than clues that are harder to observe, for example, occupation and educational achievement.
Prior research by Lenton and Francesconi provides some insight into why people might struggle with speed dating.
They found that when the number of participants in a speed-dating event increases, people lean more heavily on innate guidelines, known as heuristics, in their decision making.