Can we find love in five minutes?

Is speed dating worth it? Talking to a variety of complete strangers in quick succession, whilst hoping to appear attractive and interesting sounds terrifying to the majority of people, so I shall attempt to clear up, scientifically speaking, whether you should sign up to any events.

The speed dating set-up creates an artificial environment, altering our decision-making process. Quick successive dates with several people influence us to like those who are most similar to us in various attributes, including age, height and educational background, which doesn’t necessarily translate to real life romance. With more people in a speed-dating event, the more we are guided by heuristics, or innate guidelines, in our decision making, in this we save effort by making evaluations whilst ignoring most of the available information.

We’re also very fickle about the type of person we would like to meet, depending on what is on offer. We have ideas about the type of person we’d like to meet in the event, but to conserve mental energy we end up comparing the dates to each other, rather than our initial ideal, and so find different people at the event attractive. All in all, you’re more likely to pick someone young and attractive, making a stereotypical selection based on someone to mate with, not have a relationship with.

In a relationship we value a person more for their experiential characteristics, such as occasionally talking in funny accents, or making you laugh rather than searchable characteristics such as liking baseball or Pulp Fiction.  However a typical speed date will probably entail a series of questions about searchable characteristics you have in common, so you make snap judgements on a person depending on possibly irrelevant details.

Pheromones may also come into play, if the date lasts several minutes and the participants are closely seated. Women are more attracted to men with different MHC profiles, which is the part of the human genome related to immune function. It is thought that by being attracted to people with different immune systems to yours, you are giving your potential offspring the best chance in life. After brief exposure to the smell of another person, the body can gauge whether the date is a suitable partner, and influences our gut reaction of whether we find someone attractive.

If you’re convinced speed dating is a good option to improve your love life, here a few tips to improve your chances. Girls should wear red, as this makes them more attractive to guys, conversation involving travel ends up in more matches, don’t talk about films, and for men, you have to impress a lady in the first 30 seconds, after that the race is already lost.

Alexandra Mitchell

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