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A study in 2008 by Lenton and Barbara Fasolo of the London School of Economics and Political Science indicates that participants often misjudge how the number of options available to them will affect their feelings.Participants presented with a broad array of potential partners more closely aligned with their anticipated ideal did not experience greater emotional satisfaction than when presented with fewer options.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).In a study in 2011 in the journal , University of Edinburgh psychologist Alison P.Lenton and University of Essex economist Marco Francesconi analyzed more than 3,700 dating decisions across 84 speed-dating events.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.
In spite of maxims about so many fish in the sea, for example, recent research tells us that the heart prefers a smaller pond.The authors found that when the available prospects varied more in attributes such as age, height, occupation and educational background, people made fewer dating proposals.This effect was particularly strong when individuals were faced with a large number of partners.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.
Additionally, in speed-dating events where the characteristics of the daters varied much more, most participants did not follow up with any of their matches.