Speed Dating Works

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Making a connection in four minutes is possible. Learn the techniques here.

Besides widening your social circle in a short amount of time, you aren’t forced to hang out with people you don’t have chemistry with for more than a few minutes. Yet, many people tend to give speed dating the brush-off because the very idea of finding some who clicks with you almost instantaneously is simply ludicrous.

These folks should take heed of a study, published in the American Journal of Sociology, by researchers at Stanford. While looking into how meaningful bonds are formed, Professors Daniel McFarland and Dan Jurafsky wondered why speed dating works for some but not for others. This led them to conduct an experiment on nearly 1,000 speed dating sessions – each lasting four minutes – from which they learnt that what we say and how we say them affects how well we connect with others.

Participants recorded their dates, and when this material was transcribed and analysed, it was clear that women preferred men who were appreciative and sympathetic. “That’s awesome,” “That must be tough on you,” and other such encouraging phrases were a big hit. The female participants also enjoyed having their sentences finished by the guys.

Other factors include varying speech intonations, sharing of personal anecdotes, and – the most effective factor yet – making the ladies the focal point. Engaging the females in conversation seemed to resonate well with them. Prof McFarland attributes this to the fact that this situation is one where women are the empowered; because the women make the decisions, the sensible move would be to talk about them to make sparks fly.

On the other hand, dates with a lot of prompting and extensive questioning from either party tended not to work out. It’s usually a sign of the lack of chemistry – the ladies are asking questions to try to keep the conversation going.

After every speed date, participants had to fill out a scorecard, which asked if they would be willing to go on a real date with their partner. If both answered “yes”, a real date was set up. Couples who spent more time deciding to go on a real date reported a bonding experience, further suggesting that effective communication can enhance feelings.

Now that you know what to say and how to say it, we suggest signing up for a speed dating event ASAP!


This article was first published on DUET magazine.