Start-up companies now meet with investors, pregnant couples interact with doulas, and homeless dogs court potential owners, all using the speed-dating format.
Some years ago I caved to my curiosity and tried it out myself. When the little buzzer went off after three minutes, I often found myself still trying to explain to my bedazzled dating partner why my last name has four syllables (it is Dutch).
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.
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.
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.