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Speed Dating Studies (And What They Mean For Your Dates)

Dating research leaves us with three relationship takeaways.

September 12th, 2011

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Speed Dating

Are you a good judge of character after meeting someone only once? For first dates, this question’s more important than “what should I wear?”

First impressions determine the fate of future dates, and sometimes you can let a great match go, just because you misjudged.

Once you know you like your date, there’s a whole new question: Do they like you?

No need for flower plucking, a Magic 8-ball or your best friend’s guesswork—speed dating studies offer some answers. Lasting about three minutes each “date,” speed dating gives a glimpse into the real dating world.

We round up findings from three speeding date studies, with a final thought to ponder: Do other people influence who you’re attracted to? Let the dates begin!

QUIZ: What's Your Relationship Style?

1. Are first impressions accurate?

After mere minutes of meeting someone we already start to form an impression. Though it seems superficial to judge someone in such a short time, there might be some truth behind “going with your gut.” So, how right are we when we make a first impression?

Speed date case study: College students had a round robin of three-minute chats, until everyone met one another. After the meetings, subjects rated the personality of each “date partner” and indicated how well they thought their impression “would agree with someone who knows the person very well.” The researchers did just that—found how well the subjects’ personality ratings agreed with the personality ratings made by the date partner, as well as their family and close friends.

Finding in a flash: Subjects who were confident that they judged their date partner’s personality correctly were more correct than those who didn’t think they were right. It’s not that some subjects were better at judging everyone well. But when subjects thought they were judging someone’s character accurately, they usually were!

Relationship takeaway: When it comes to guessing what someone else is really like, trust your gut. The more confident you are about your intuition, the more likely it is that you’re right.

MORE: Does popular dating advice work?

Actual study: Do We Know When Our Impressions of Others Are Valid? Evidence for Realistic Accuracy Awareness in First Impressions of Personality

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