Speed dating

Speed dating

Speed dating is a formalized matchmaking process or dating system whose purpose is to encourage people to meet a large number of new people. Its origins are credited to Rabbi Yaacov Deyo of Aish HaTorah, originally as a way to help Jewish singles meet and marry. [http://www.speeddating.com/history.php SpeedDating History] ] [cite magazine | url=http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/030382.html | title=The Road to Romance | journal=Harvard Magazine | issue=March-April 2003 | pages=28-28A | accessdate=2007-02-09] [cite web | url=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4803880 | title=Speed dating with Yaacov and Sue Deyo | publisher=NPR | accessdate=2007-02-08] "SpeedDating", as a single word, is a registered trademark of Aish HaTorah. "Speed dating", as two separate words, is often used as a generic term for similar events.

The first speed-dating event took place at Pete’s Café in Beverly Hills in late 1998. Soon afterward, several commercial services began offering secular round-robin dating events across the United States. By 2000, speed dating had really taken off, perhaps boosted by its portrayal in shows such as "Sex and the City" as something that glamorous people did. Supporters argue that speed dating saves time, as most people decide if they are romantically compatible very quickly, and first impressions are often permanent.


Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short "dates", usually lasting from 3 to 8 minutes depending on the organization running the event. At the end of each interval, the organizer rings a bell or clinks a glass to signal the participants to move on to the next date. At the end of the event participants submit to the organizers a list of who they would like to provide their contact information to. If there is a match, contact information is forwarded to both parties. Contact information cannot be traded during the initial meeting, in order to reduce pressure (especially on women) to accept or reject a suitor to his or her face.

These events typically require advance registration, often an online prepayment by credit card. However, they may accept a few walk-ins when needed to balance the gender ratio. Some services make use of waitlists when signing up to strive for exactly the same number of men and women, while others have a more "party" atmosphere and only aim for an approximately matching number.

There are many speed dating events now in the UK, Canada, and the US. Many of these simply specify an age range for ladies and gentlemen; sometimes a slightly older range is specified for men. On the other hand, many organizers offer niche events such as nights for graduates only, gays and lesbians, older men with younger women and vice versa, book lovers, ethnic events, and of course the original niche event, religious affiliation.


Speed dating has some obvious advantages over most other venues for meeting people, such as bars, discotheques, etc. in that everybody is purportedly there to meet someone, they are grouped into compatible age ranges, it is time-efficient, and the structured interaction eliminates the need to introduce oneself. And unlike many bars a speed dating event will, by necessity, be quiet enough for people to talk comfortably.

Participants can come alone without feeling out of place; alternatively it is something that women who like to go out in groups can do together. [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20030119/ai_n9681974 The Independent (London) Jan 19 2003 via Findarticles.com: Speed-dating boom hit by shortage of men] ]

Because the matching itself happens after the event, people do not feel pressured to select or reject each other in person. On the other hand, feedback and gratification are delayed as participants must wait a day or two for their results to come in.

The time limit ensures that a participant will not be stuck with a boorish match for very long, and prevents participants from monopolizing one another's time. On the other hand, a couple that decides they are incompatible early on will have to sit together for the duration of the round.

Most speed dating events match people at random, and participants will meet different "types" that they might not normally talk to in a club. On the other hand, the random matching precludes the various cues, such as eye contact, that people use in bars to preselect each other before chatting them up.

Business speed dating has also been used in China as a way for business people to meet each other and to decide if they have similar business objectives and synergies.Fact|date=July 2008 Speed dating offers participating investors and companies an outstanding opportunity to have focused private meetings with targeted groups in a compact time frame.

Scientific research

There have been several studies of the round-robin dating systems themselves, as well as studies of interpersonal attraction that are relevant to these events. Other studies found speed-dating data useful as a way to observe individual choices among random participants.

First impressions

A 2005 study at the University of Pennsylvania of multiple HurryDate speed dating events found that most people made their choices within the first three seconds of meeting. Furthermore, issues such as religion, previous marriages, and smoking habits were found to play much less of a role than expected. [http://www.psych.upenn.edu/PLEEP/pdfs/2005%20Kurzban%20&%20Weeden%20EHB.pdf "HurryDate: Mate preferences in action"] —a study done by evolutionary psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania] [ [http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/article.php?id=747 "UPenn: Falling in Love in Three Minutes or Less"] —press release]

A 2006 study in Edinburgh, Scotland showed that 45% of the women participants in a speed-dating event and 22% of the men had come to a decision within the first 30 seconds. It also found that dialogue concerning travel resulted in more matches than dialogue about films. [ [http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=567952006 "Men, you have 30 seconds to impress women"] —"The Scotsman" Apr 14 2006]

Subconscious preferences

Malcolm Gladwell's book on split-second decision-making, "Blink," introduces two professors at Columbia University who run speed-dating events. Drs. Sheena Iyengar and Raymond Fisman found, from having the participants fill out questionnaires, that what people said they wanted in an ideal mate did not match their subconscious preferences. [cite book|title=Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking|first=Malcolm|last=Gladwell|year=2005|publisher=Little, Brown|id=ISBN 0-316-17232-4 pp. 61-66] [ [http://www.nerve.com/screeningroom/books/thestorytellingproblem Nerve.com: The Storytelling Problem (excerpt from "Blink")] ]

Olfaction and the MHC

A 1995 study at the University of Bern showed that women appear to be attracted to the smell of men who have different MHC profiles from their own, and that oral contraceptives reversed this effect. [ [http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-1174.html Psychology Today Mar/Apr 1996: The Smell of Love] ]

The MHC is a region of the human genome involved with immune function. Because parents with more diverse MHC profiles would be expected to produce offspring with stronger immune systems, dissimilar MHC may play a role in sexual selection.

A speed "date" lasting several minutes should be long enough for the MHC hypothesis to come into play, provided the participants are seated close enough together.

Olfaction and pheromones

The TV newsmagazine 20/20 once sent both a male and a female set of twins to a speed dating event. One of each set was wearing pheromones, and the ones wearing pheromones received more matches. [ [http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Health/story?id=1386825 ABC News: Are Pheromones a Secret Weapon For Dating?] ]

Age and height preference

A 2006 study at the University of Essex and the IZA in Bonn [ [http://ftp.iza.org/dp2377.pdf Can anyone be the One? Evidence on Mate Selection from Speed Dating] IZA Discussion paper October 2006] into the relative effects of preference versus opportunity in mate selection showed, while concluding that opportunity was more important than preference, that a woman's age is the single most important factor determining demand by men. Although less important than it is to men, age is still a highly significant factor determining demand by women.

The same study found that a man's height had a significant impact upon his desirability, with a reduction in height causing a decrease in desirability at the rate of 5% per inch.


Studies of speed dating events generally show more selectivity among women than among men. For instance, the Penn study reported that the average man was chosen by 34% of the women and the average woman was chosen by 49% of the men. Men's tendency to select nearly every woman above a certain degree of attractiveness was confirmed by a study conducted in Munich, Germany, on 26 men and 20 women. [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/03/tech/main3229336.shtml Dating Study: Women Are Choosier Than Men, Researchers Conclude Men Go For Good Looks When It Comes To Choosing A Mate - CBS News ] ]

In popular culture

Speed dating has been featured in several television programs and movies:


*"Sex and the City". "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (2000): Miranda, the lawyer, pretends to be a stewardess at the event after telling her first few "dates" that she is a successful lawyer scares them off [ [http://www.hbo.com/city/episode/season3/episode42.shtml HBO.com: Sex and the City] ]
*"Providence". "The Mating Dance" (2001): Syd goes to a "speed dating" event. [ [http://www.tv.com/providence/the-mating-dance/episode/101882/summary.html TV.com: Providence] ]
*"Kath and Kim". "Gay" (2002): Kim, estranged from her husband of 2 months, goes with her friend Sharon to a speed dating event. [ [http://www.tv.com/kath-and-kim/gay/episode/160090/summary.html TV.com: Kath & Kim] ]
*"Reba". "Switch" (2002) : Reba's daughter, Cheyenne, convinces her mother to try speed-dating. [ [http://www.tv.com/reba/switch/episode/202569/summary.html TV.com "Reba"] ]
*"Monk". "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater" (2003): Adrian Monk tries to talk to a suspect at a speed dating event. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0650614/ IMDb "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater] ]
*"Dead Like Me". "Hurry" (2004): Daisy goes speed dating to take the soul of one of the men participating. [ [http://www.tv.com/dead-like-me/hurry/episode/317716/summary.html TV.com: Dead Like Me] ]
*"Gilmore Girls". "But Not as Cute as Pushkin" (2004): Featured Rory's friend Paris attempting speed dating after the death of her professor boyfriend. [ [http://www.tv.com/gilmore-girls/but-not-as-cute-as-pushkin/episode/378361/summary.html TV.com: Gilmore Girls] ]
*"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". "Queer Eye For The Shy Guy" (2004): a straight man is made over to attend a speed dating party. [ [http://bravotv-pub.console.net/Queer_Eye_for_the_Straight_Guy/Episodes/135 Bravo: Queer Eye] ]
*"60 Minutes II". "60 Minutes II" (2004): Featured speed dating in the segment called "Love in the 21st Century" [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/17/60II/main636523.shtml Love in the 21st Century] ]
*"The Vicar of Dibley". "Happy New Year" (2005): Geraldine Granger receives a ticket to a speed dating event for her 40th birthday. [ [http://www.tv.com/the-vicar-of-dibley/happy-new-year/episode/386516/recap.html TV.com: "The Vicar of Dibley"] ]
*"Beauty and the Geek". "Episode 204" (2006): Featured speed dating as one of the challenges faced by the "geeks". [ [http://www.tv.com/beauty-and-the-geek/episode-204/episode/634132/summary.html TV.com: Beauty and the Geek] ]
*"The Bill". "Episode 405" (2006): Yvonne Hemmingway persuades Honey Harman to go with her to a speed-dating event. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0793698 IMDB.com: "The Bill" 405] ]
*"The L Word". "Lifeline" (2006): Alice and Kit go to a speed dating event. [ [http://www.tv.com/the-l-word/lifeline/episode/471445/summary.html TV.com: The L Word] ]
*"The Simpsons". "Regarding Margie" (2006): Marge Simpson, during a bout of amnesia, went on a speed-dating event.
* Various dating game shows such as "The 5th Wheel"
* Music video "You" (2006): performed by R&B artist Lloyd featuring Lil Wayne
*"Psych". "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He's Dead" (2007): Shawn and Gus connect supposed "alien abductions" to a speed-dating event at a local bar, and attend undercover to solve the kidnappings.
*"The Friday Night Project". "Series 5, Episode 8 - Guest Host: Rupert Everett" (2007): Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr take Rupert Everett to a speed-dating event in a London bar. [ [http://www.whenthemusicstops.com/media.php When The Music Stops: Media Information] ]


*"Hitch" (2005)
*"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005)
*"Shoppen" - a German movie on speed dating (2007)


*In the UK, the Local Government Association with the Solent Peoples Theatre developed "political speed dating" in 2004. Not a niche dating event; these are run by local councils to introduce young constituents to their representatives. [ [http://www.localdemocracy.org.uk/C2B/document_tree/ViewADocument.asp?ID=17&CatID=2 LGA: Political speed dating] ]

*In the video for UK pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor's track I Won't Change You, she is seen at a speed dating night, dressing up in numerous costumes to try and gain a potential soulmate.

ee also

*Meeting system


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • speed dating — noun The practice of attending an organized social event during which people have a series of short meetings (speed dates) with potential romantic partners • • • Main Entry: ↑speed * * * ˈspeed dating 7 [speed dating] noun …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Speed-Dating — Unter Speed Dating versteht man eine ursprünglich aus den USA stammende Methode, schnell neue Flirt oder Beziehungspartner zu finden. Als Urheber (seit 1998) gilt Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, Mitglied der orthodox jüdischen Organisation Aish HaTorah mit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • speed dating — N UNCOUNT Speed dating is a method of introducing unattached people to potential partners by arranging for them to meet a series of people on a single occasion. If you re a busy person, looking to meet several potential mates at the same event,… …   English dictionary

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