Eli J. Finkel, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University; Paul W. Eastwick, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University; Jacob. Matt Kaplan investigates the science of speed dating. Matt Kaplan. Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick have probably seen more first dates than most. Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick. Northwestern University. ABSTRACT— Scholars have recently begun to harness the immense power of speed-dating.
Speed-dating procedures allow researchers to study romantic dynamics dyadically, with regard to potentially meaningful relationships, and with strong external validity. This article highlights the strengths and promise of speed-dating procedures, reviews some of their most exciting contributions to our understanding of the social psyche, and illustrates how scholars can employ speed-dating and its straightforward variants to study topics relevant to diverse subfields of psychological science.
In Deyo s clever paradigm, individuals interested in meeting potential romantic partners go on approximately 10 to 25 very brief e. After the event, participants report whether they would yes or would not no be interested in corresponding with each speed-dating partner again in the future. If two participants reply yes to each other, they are a match, and the host of the speed-dating event provides them with the opportunity to contact each other, perhaps to arrange a more traditional date. Readers with no first-hand exposure to Deyo s speed-dating paradigm might become exhausted by the mere notion of going on 10 to 25 blind dates in one night.
Fortunately, speed-dating bears little resemblance to traditional blind dates. A better analogy for a speed-dating event is a party or other social gathering where individuals hope to meet other singles. Compared to such social gatherings, however, speed-dating offers several advantages to participants, including the assurance that the people they meet are also interested in meeting romantic partners, the ability to give to each partner unambiguous acceptance or rejection feedback without having to do so face-toface, and the comfort of knowing that the suffering inflicted by a bad date will be mercifully brief.
What led to Deyo s invention of speed-dating? As the details of his life are somewhat hazy, we use guesswork to fill in the gaps: Deyo must have long been a social psychology fanatic who delighted in those all-too-rare articles describing well-controlled studies from the s and 70s in which scholars randomly assigned participants to go on blind dates with each other e.
Later, during the s, he must have voraciously consumed the scholarly literature on interpersonal perception, becoming enthralled by Nalini Ambady s research on perceptions based on thin slices of social behavior e. This evidence that individuals can make accurate and differentiated social judgments based on strikingly brief social observations or interactions surely caused Deyo to conclude that singles could probably evaluate each other s romantic potential within a few short moments.
Speed-Dating Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick - PDF
He augmented the blind date with speed to help people meet romantic partners as efficiently as possible. Of course, this social psychology fanatic theory of speeddating s birth is fictional.
It does, however, accurately situate speed-dating procedures squarely in the mainstream of social psychological theory and methodology. For example, importing the speed aspect of the thin slices and zero acquaintance literatures allows scholars to examine the opening moments of romantic attraction with supercharged efficiency e.
In this article, we discuss how scholars can use Volume 17 Number 3 Copyright r Association for Psychological Science 2 Speed-Dating speed-dating to a study dyadic processes, b examine real relationships in real time, and c enjoy strong external validity.
Dyadic Processes One advantage of speed-dating is that its procedures allow scholars to study both members of a given dyad. Because romantic attraction involves two individuals simultaneously perceiving and being perceived, scholars may fail to investigate or even recognize important attraction phenomena if their methods do not allow them to consider the dyad as the unit of analysis.
Many widespread empirical procedures examine romantic attraction from only one person s perspective. For example, scholars may a present participants with information about a target person e.
Paul Eastwick and Eli Finkel Northwestern University
Although such methods are powerful and valuable especially insofar as they can readily accommodate diverse experimental manipulations they fail to capture essential dyadic features of romantic-attraction dynamics, such as the uncertainty and evaluation apprehension that both individuals frequently experience during the interaction.
Speed-dating procedures overcome this limitation, as each speed-date involves two participants who simultaneously explore their romantic potential with the other person. For example, a heterosexual speed-dating event attended by 20 men and 20 women would include separate dyadic interactions.
Among other advantages, this efficient accumulation of dyadic interactions allows scholars to harness the power of the statistical procedures underlying Kenny s social relations model.
For example, scholars can distinguish among three independent reasons why Laura experienced sexual desire for Tim following their speed-date: Speed-dating data also provide scholars with an optimal means of exploring inherently dyadic processes such as reciprocity of liking. Such reciprocity can emerge in two distinct ways: Dyadic and generalized reciprocity correlations in platonic and romantic speed-dating contexts.
The reported values are Fisher z-transformed correlations the Pearson correlations for the four bars, from left to right, are.
Correlations are measures of agreement that can vary from 1. Neither effect differed by participant sex, and both were robust beyond any physical attractiveness effects.
These results suggest that unselective romantic desire smacks of desperation and turns people off, although this adverse consequence may be unique to romantic contexts. Three other studies employing dyadic interactions with strangers in nonromantic contexts see Kenny, yielded both positive dyadic and positive generalized reciprocity effects: Individuals who platonically liked others were liked in return, regardless of whether their liking was selective or unselective see right half of Fig.
Real Relationships A second advantage of speed-dating is that it allows social scientists to study initial attraction dynamics between two individuals who could plausibly pursue a meaningful romantic relationship together in the near future. Scholars can study such dynamics in real time rather than with retrospective reports or with hypothetical scenarios and with regard to consequential dating behaviors. Participants behavior on their speed-dates which can be videotaped and codedand their yessing and ing decisions, can powerfully influence their romantic lives over the ensuing days, weeks, and beyond.
Men s and women s preferences for physical attractiveness and earning prospects regarding hypothetical partners and actual partners. Participants reported their hypothetical partner preferences for a given characteristic physical attractiveness or earning prospects on scales ranging from 1 to 9, with higher values reflecting stronger preferences for that characteristic.
For clarity of presentation, these hypothetical ratings average across participants preferences in an ideal partner and in a speed-dating partner. Participants actual partner preferences reflect the correlation of their evaluation of a specific speed-dating partner s characteristics and their romantic attraction to him or her across 17 measures of romantic attraction.
The sex differences for hypothetical partners are statistically significant both for physical attractiveness and for earning prospects, but they fail to approach significance in either case for actual partners. The values reported in the right half of the figure are Fisher z-transformed correlations the Pearson correlations for the four bars, from left to right, are.
This study reexamined the well-replicated and well-publicized findings that men prefer physical attractiveness in a mate more than women do and that women prefer good earning prospects in a mate more than men do e.
Speed-Dating Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick
But the story does not end there: Speed-dating procedures allow scholars to ask whether these sex differences in stated preferences correspond to preferences for actual, flesh-and-blood partners. Meta-analyzing across 17 different measures of romantic attraction from the speed-dating event and the ensuing month e.
These null effects for sex were not moderated by participants pursuit of short-term versus long-term mating goals, and they could not be explained by participants settling for nonideal partners due to fear of rejection. That those sex differences emerging so reliably when participants report on hypothetical partners disappear when they report on flesh-and-blood partners raises a fascinating question: Do individuals have accurate introspective access to their preferences in a live romantic context?
Each Northwestern Speed-Dating Study participant met approximately 12 oppositesex speed-daters. Therefore, we could assign a unique score an in-vivo preference representing how well a given participant s judgments of each partner s physical attractiveness or earning prospects predicted her or his romantic attraction toward that partner. External Validity A third advantage of speed-dating procedures is that they exhibit stronger external validity than do many other highly controlled procedures for studying romantic attraction.
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