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?
About a decade ago, a rabbi in Los Angeles named Yaacov Deyo provided the answer: speed-dating.
As researchers of romantic attraction, we think about all the single people meeting each other for the first time – chatting for a few moments, deciding whether or not they’d like to get to know each other better – and we are heartbroken not to be observing unobtrusively.
Every night, researchers who investigate relationships and person perception miss out on great opportunities. Interpersonal perception: A social relations analysis.
In some cases, researchers will be content to assess who has said yes to whom and which matches have subsequently contacted one another.
However, very little research has explored the span of time between an initial encounter and the formation of a romantic relationship.
It is true that people at parties can often form real relationships with real futures, and this external validity makes such social gatherings ideal sources of data on real-life mating behaviour (Eastwick & Finkel, in press). Using a paper-and-pencil or online questionnaire, researchers can assess demographic, personality and attitude measures. Time permitting, researchers might also assess baseline levels of biomarkers such as cortisol and alpha amylase, and, in women, contraception use and menstrual cycle phase. Recent research Several different research teams have used speed-dating in recent years to explore a wide variety of topics. Speed-dating: A powerful and flexible paradigm for studying romantic relationship initiation. For example, we have used speed-dating to explore men’s and women’s preferences for a romantic partner’s physical attractiveness and earning prospects (Eastwick & Finkel, 2008). Therefore, we encourage researchers to consider administering one or perhaps several questionnaires in the wake of the speed-dating event.