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[break] Prior research by Lenton and Francesconi provides some insight into why people might struggle with speed dating.
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.
Yet we need not be passive victims of our circumstances.
Knowing how your environment influences your mind-set, a quality known as ecological rationality, can help you make the choices that are best for you.
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.
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In essence, heuristics are ingrained rules of thumb that allow us to save effort by ignoring some of the information available to us when we evaluate our options.
For example, in those events with a relatively large number of participants, the researchers discovered that people attend predominantly to easily accessible features, such as age, height, physical attractiveness, and so forth, rather than clues that are harder to observe, for example, occupation and educational achievement.
Decisions, Decisions Traditional dating can seem haphazard, contingent on seemingly minor details such as whether you signed up for the right yoga class or patronized the same bar as your future love interest.
Online dating, too, has its drawbacks, requiring hours to sift through profiles and craft careful introductory e-mails before arranging to meet in person.
They make split-second decisions on matters of the heart, creating a pool of information on one of the more ineffable yet vital questions of our time—how we select our mates.