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Speed dating current directions in psychological science

These questionnaires provide an invaluable source of data that go beyond the simple yes/no response and allow for data analysis using Kenny’s (1994; Kenny & La Voie, 1984) Social Relations Model (e.g. If resources are available, researchers might also wish to take photographs of participants or to audio- and video-record the speed-dates themselves. Third and finally, researchers can follow up with their participants in the wake of the speed-dating event.

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Each date lasts just a few minutes, and the attendees use their quickly generated impressions to decide whether or not they would (‘yes’) or would not (‘no’) be interested in seeing each of their speed-dates again. Typically, mutual yesses (‘matches’) are then given the ability to contact each other after the event to further explore any romantic possibilities. At first glance, it might seem that individuals would only be able to learn shallow or trivial information about a potential romantic partner in just a few short minutes (e.g. However, this notion is contradicted by an avalanche of evidence demonstrating that individuals can make remarkably sophisticated social judgements based on ‘thin slices’ of social behaviour lasting five minutes or less (Ambady et al., 2000). Perhaps unknowingly, the rabbi invented speed-dating by applying this social psychological gem to a romantic context. If participants are able to accurately judge teaching effectiveness (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993) or personality (Kenny, 1994) within minutes, they might just as quickly glean accurate information regarding romantic compatibility. Speed-dating also offers an opportunity to study interracial dating dynamics: for example, individuals are more likely to prefer same-race over interracial speed-dating partners if they grew up in a location characterised by strong opposition to interracial marriage (Fisman et al., 2008). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 245–264.

In short, speed-dating presents an excellent opportunity for researchers to study a variety of topics related to interpersonal relationships.

Therefore, we encourage researchers to consider administering one or perhaps several questionnaires in the wake of the speed-dating event.

Using a diary-type format (Bolger et al., 2003), researchers can assess information about participants’ lives in general as well as specific details about their relationships with each speed-dating match.

This discussion is intended to provide a general overview of speed-dating procedures.

Elsewhere, we have provided an extensive how-to manual for researchers planning to conduct their own speed-dating research, reviewing issues such as recruitment strategies, institutional review board concerns, payment considerations, and use of the internet (Finkel et al., 2007).

How terrific would it be if there existed a type of social gathering with just a bit more structure; something that romantically eligible individuals would want to attend, but that would also permit data collection and experimental control?