Speed Dating is Survival of the Hottest

Speed dating is huge now, but be careful you know what you’re getting into. The latest psychological research suggests your ‘great personality’ might not get ticks in boxes. So what have psychologists found out so far?

Robert Kurzban and Jason Weeden from the University of Pennsylvania investigated more than 10,000 speed daters in the US. What their research showed was that many of the things that had previously been found to be important in choosing a mate, like education, income or smoking and drinking habits were found to be irrelevant in people’s choices.

What is relevant then? You guessed it:

  • 34% of women’s desirability was predicted by their physical attractiveness
  • 18.4% of men’s desirability was predicted by their physical attractiveness

The research is showing speed dating is focussing people’s attention on physical attractiveness to an even greater extent than normal. Three minutes, the standard amount of time each speed date lasts, might well be two minutes and fifty-nine seconds more than you need.

This means that the practical advice when you go to a speed dating event is:

  • Be honest about your own physical attractiveness and,
  • Aim for members of the opposite sex at a similar level

In a longer encounter in the ‘real world’ you may have a chance with those out of your league, but in speed dating it’s survival of the hottest.

HurryDate: Mate preferences in action

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 27 August 2005

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