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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.

Speed dating, by comparison, offers the opportunity to chat up many eligible singles in rapid succession.

In a typical speed-dating event, participants pair off at individual tables and chairs for a few minutes of conversation.

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.

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.

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Lenton and University of Essex economist Marco Francesconi analyzed more than 3,700 dating decisions across 84 speed-dating events.One speed-dating company in New York City, for example, holds a gathering almost every day.Last year online coupon company Groupon hosted the world’s largest speed-dating event, with 414 attendees crammed into a restaurant in Chicago.AS A PSYCHOLOGIST, I have always found the concept of speed dating fascinating.During a series of mini dates, each spanning no more than a couple of minutes, participants in a speed-dating event evaluate a succession of eligible singles.

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