Men and women often decide in minutes who they want to date, and base that decision on largely superficial factors, new research from a speed dating service suggests.
During a speed dating session, in which roughly 25 men and 25 women met for three minutes at a time, both sexes tended to decide who they wanted to spend more time with based on how potential partners looked, caring most about facial attractiveness, height, and weight. This contradicts previous research in which people said they choose mates based on religion, income, and whether they were previously married, among other factors, study author Dr. Robert Kurzban told Reuters Health. “It was physical features, for both sexes,” he said. “You know what you’re attracted to when you see it.” The latest research suggests that, when it comes to attractions, people may say one thing but do another, Kurzban noted. People’s initial attractions “don’t seem to reflect what their (admitted) preferences are,” he added. You may have a great job and personality, but appearance could be “what’s going to get you past the first hurdle,” he said. However, in an interview, Kurzban said that speed daters had to decide who they wanted to see again after a three-minute conversation. With more time, religion, income and other factors may come into play more and more, he noted. “You have to be initially attracted, but that’s not all there is,” he said. During the study, Kurzban and his co-author, Jason Weeden, both from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, reviewed data collected from 10,526 people participating in the HurryDate speed dating service. As part of the survey, participants met with potential mates for 3 minutes, then indicated who they would like to see again. Kurzban and Weeden found that both men and women tended to pick people based on their physical appearance. For instance, men chose women based mostly on their weight, with most men preferring thinner women, Kurzban noted. Women, in turn, were most interested in men who were taller and had attractive faces, he added. These findings, reported in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, show that the stereotype that men care only about a woman’s looks is just partly true, but women appear to be equally guilty, the researcher said. Kurzman added that he and Weeden did not follow people past the initial speed date, to determine if decisions based on attractiveness ultimately lead to partners that suit people’s needs over the long term. Hurry Brands LLC, the parent company of HurryDate, compiled the data for the study, but did not fund the researchers. (Source: Evolution and Human Behavior: Reuters Health: Alison McCook: March 2005.)