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.
Thus, speed-dating essentially lies at the intersection of person perception research and popular culture (Finkel & Eastwick, in press).
Each date lasts just a few minutes, and the attendees use their quickly generated impressions to decide whether or not they would (‘yes’) or would not (‘no’) be interested in seeing each of their speed-dates again. Speed-dating also offers an opportunity to study interracial dating dynamics: for example, individuals are more likely to prefer same-race over interracial speed-dating partners if they grew up in a location characterised by strong opposition to interracial marriage (Fisman et al., 2008). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 245–264. In short, speed-dating presents an excellent opportunity for researchers to study a variety of topics related to interpersonal relationships. 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. Every night, researchers who investigate relationships and person perception miss out on great opportunities. Millions of parties and social gatherings take place throughout the world, and no one is there to measure the interpersonal dynamics taking place in these real-world environments. These questionnaires provide an invaluable source of data that go beyond the simple yes/no response and allow for data analysis using Kenny’s (1994; Kenny & La Voie, 1984) Social Relations Model (e.g. If resources are available, researchers might also wish to take photographs of participants or to audio- and video-record the speed-dates themselves. Third and finally, researchers can follow up with their participants in the wake of the speed-dating event. For one, some evidence suggests that participants have a better speed-dating experience when they go on a moderate number of dates rather than a large number (Fisman et al., 2006). Secondly, with the time freed up by including fewer dates, researchers can administer a questionnaire at the end of each date to assess participants’ impressions of each speed-dating partner.