How to Find Love in 4 Minutes: The Science of Speed Dating

Before the rise of Tinder and OKCupid, back in the days when banging our friends didn’t require a Facebook account, there was speed dating.

Essentially, a session of heterosexual speed dating involves a group of women sitting around in a circle and a group of men who rotate around them. Everyone gets a chance to meet (and flirt); and successful pairings are given contact info to try their luck in the “real world.”

Speed dating is useful for obvious reasons, like sharing horror stories about inappropriate participants. But, for two Stanford researchers, speed dating also provides rich material for analyzing the science behind romance and attraction. According to their findings, there are a few key elements of the standard four-minute speed date that consistently predict whether two people will hit it off or head for the hills — even outside of the speed-dating arena. Some of the results are a no-brainer (women like men who are interested in them), while others are less intuitive (who knew asking too many questions was a faux pas?).

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