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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).
Last year online coupon company Groupon hosted the world’s largest speed-dating event, with 414 attendees crammed into a restaurant in Chicago.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.It sounds simple, but each variable in the design of the event can affect the daters’ outcomes.
In spite of maxims about so many fish in the sea, for example, recent research tells us that the heart prefers a smaller pond.When the buzzer sounds, half of the singles move to another chair and a different partner, in a kind of round robin.