4 Lessons Speed Dating Teaches Us About Attraction

Are we more superficial than we’d like to admit?

Mich?le Belot and Marco Francesconi, in their study Dating Preferences and Meeting Opportunities in Mate Choice Decisions, observed 84 speed dating events to see what kinds of standards men and women hold each other to after those brief encounters. What sorts of judgments do women make about you after only a few minutes? Here are a few of their more interesting findings:

1. Women working in “skilled and managerial or professional occupations” were not selected as often. The opposite is true of men.

Basically, a man who works with his hands is attractive to women, but a woman who works with her hands is not attractive to men. The authors of the study note, however, that the sample size of speed daters they observed were more highly educated than the general population, so this finding might not quite represent the preferences of the male population as a whole. Also, it doesn’t mean men working white-collar jobs are less desirable.

2. Younger and taller people, regardless of gender, were selected more often.

This conclusion shouldn’t be surprising, but it enforces the fact that these kinds of superficial factors matter to most people. Despite a lot of marketing you may have been exposed to from various dating coaches guaranteeing that you can get amazing results no matter what you look like or how old you are, the way you look can either stack the deck in your favor or serve as a hindrance.

If you’re shorter and older, this finding doesn’t mean you should give up on improving your dating life; but it does mean that you might have a hard time meeting women in a bar filled with 20-something year old women. Think about other types of environments that might work in your favor.

3. Women were much more selective than men. Only one in ten women did not end up with a match, compared to one in three men.

This finding makes sense through the lens of evolution. Since pregnancy is a much bigger investment for women than it is for men, women have to carefully qualify the men they have sex with to maximize the chances the offspring will have the best possible genes. Men, from the perspective of biology, can afford to be more indiscriminate when selecting partners since they can father multiple children with multiple partners, maximizing their chances of having at least one genetically fit child.

4. Smokers, regardless of gender, were less likely to end up on a date.

Smoking used to make you cool about 50 years ago, but now the opposite is true after all the anti-cigarette propaganda circulating on television, social media, billboards and other mediums. In this day and age, being a smoker means having a smaller dating pool.

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About Jordan Murray Jordan is a journalist who has written extensively about dating and lifestyle for multiple publications.

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