Sunday, 15 October 2006

The Science of Speed Dating - A gentleman does not kiss and tell...

We live in a fast paced world. And the modern approach to dating embraces this idea. This week we are going to tackle the science of speed dating.

My friend, and fellow Diffusion Science Radio team member, Vanessa Gardos and I travelled down to Canberra for a Speed Dating extravaganza. There we heard a talk by our friend, and communicator extraordinaire, Lish Hogge on the science of speed dating, and got lost in the whole speed dating experience.

This podcast contains our reflections on the evening and the science of speed dating, as heard on the Diffusion Science Radio show recorded and broadcast through 2SER in Sydney. This was live and unscripted, and so rather honest, although as a gentleman I can not divulge too much information from the evening! Ian Woolf and Justin Zeltzer take part in this discussion, and the segment was produced by Ian.

Following this, and a brief interlude by Jose Gonzales, I have included, with permission, an interview Lish did with Richard Aedy about the science of love and speed dating on the "Life Matters" show on ABC radio across Australia.

Here on the Mr Science Show website, we have tackled the science of love a few times:
Today I have included below an extract from Lish's run program for her National Library talk, discussing the science of speed-dating, how personality traits effect your chances, and what pick up lines to use. Thanks Lish!

What's Love Got to Do with it? (Lish Hogge 2006)

How do you get love really damn fast, because let’s face it, we haven’t got time to be fiddling about looking for love in all the wrong places when we could be reproducing our genes and bringing up off-spring so that they too can make our genes go further.

So, how to meet people you like more than yourself and want to spend the rest of your life with? There are several modern ways - online dating, mobile text messaging or speed dating.

Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher has also bought science to on-line dating. She is one of a collection of scientists at (note the blatant use of science to sell product!) She has translated her work on neurotransmitters and hormones to discrete personality types. Her personality types are similar to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment tool that classifies people according to four pairs of traits: Introversion vs Extroversion, Sensing vs iNtuition, Thinking vs Feeling, Judging vs Perceiving (Marc: I’m INFP by the way, rather unscientist like).

Dr. Fisher found out that genes for certain hormones or chemicals are also associated with particular character and personality traits.

DOPAMINE – Associated with motivation, curiosity, anxiety and optimism. Maps to the EXPLORER personality type.

Genes for the metabolism of SERATONIN, another neurotransmitter, tend to modulate ones degrees of calm, stability, popularity and religiosity. Maps to the BUILDER personality type.

TESTOSTERONE is associated with being rational, analytical, exacting, independent, logical, rank oriented, competitive, irreverent and narcissistic. Maps to the DIRECTOR personality type.

OESTROGEN hormone is associated with being imaginative, creative, insightful human, sympathetic, agreeable, flexible and verbal. Maps to the NEGOTIATOR (or DIPLOMAT) personality type. uses a questionnaire to drag out clients ‘chemistry’ through looking at these traits.

There are some interesting genetic traits that are indicators for these personality traits. Take your left hand and have a look at the index and ring fingers. Which is longer? Would you look at someone's hands before into their soul? Elevated foetal testosterone determines the ratio of the second and forth finger in a particular way as it similarly builds the female and male brain. So by looking at someone’s hand you can get a fair idea if they are going to be a male or a female... or in those of us already born, whether we are a director (LONG RING FINGER) or a negotiator (SHORTER RINGER FINGER)

Some Characteristics That May Be Associated with Digit Ratio (from Manning, 2002)

Low 2D:4D ratio
High 2D:4D ratio

Presumably due to relatively greater foetal exposure to testosterone in the 1st trimester
Presumably due to relatively greater foetal exposure to oestrogen in the 1st trimester.
· More fertile
· Higher lifetime reproductive success
· More aggressive and assertive
· Greater proclivity towards homosexuality / bisexuality
· Higher musical and sports aptitude
· Higher risk of early heart disease
· Greater proclivity toward homosexuality/bisexuality
· More aggressive and assertive
· More fertile
· Higher lifetime reproductive success
· Higher risk of breast cancer

But why would we evolve to have longer fingers- there has to be a point – perhaps a longer ring finger gave more stability while throwing objects increasing accuracy – an inherent masculine trait – this was clearly important when we were hunters and gathers but now … what of those people who had a longer ring finger to index?

Another question: How often do you vividly imagine extreme life situations such as being stranded on a dessert island or winning lottery?

A: Almost never
B: Sometime
C: Most of the time
D: All of the time?

Someone who answers 'All the time' is a definite Negotiator," Fisher said. "High oestrogen activity is associated with extreme imagination."

According to Fisher, each response is correlated with one of the four personality types: Choice A corresponds to Explorer, B to Builder, C to Director, and D to Negotiator.

If you're a builder...
You are calm, dependable and thorough. You shine at all sorts of executive and managerial skills, both in the workplace and at home. People admire and respect you.

Dating suggestions for the Builder:

You can bring stability to someone who is impulsive and a risk taker. In return, you may find someone with the energy and imagination you admire.

If you're an explorer...

You love to discover new things, absorb yourself in new ideas and travel to new places, often on the spur of the moment. You are highly inquisitive and spontaneous. Because of this, all sorts of adventures come your way.

Dating suggestions for the Explorer:

When you find someone you are genuinely interested in, avoid other dating opportunities and focus your energy on this person.

If you're a negotiator...

You are intuitive and understanding — the quintessential "people person." You instinctively know how others are thinking and feeling. You can be enormously empathetic, charming and tactful.

Dating suggestions for the Negotiator:
Try not to overthink situations. Let your mate know your boundaries, needs and hopes. This way, he or she will be able to act accordingly to enhance the relationship.

If you're a director...

At times, you can be a genius. You are highly inventive. With your intense determination, competitive spirit, and lack of respect for convention, you have the potential to make major discoveries and be a dynamic leader.

Dating suggestions for the Director:

Your competitive spirit is productive and appreciated at work; but with your partner, you may want to practice relaxing so you can truly enjoy your "down time" with him or her.

But if you are still not convinced that science is the future when researching affairs of the heart then you can log onto thousands of other sites:

Good Genes: Helping Ivy Leaguers and similar well educated graduates and faculty find other with matching credentials

Millionaire Match
: Add a touch of romance to success and achievement

Single Fire Fighters
: The only place to meet fire fighters with out calling 000.

And then there is speeding dating, it is fast, furious and fake but it removes months if not years of traipsing around bars, joining clubs and taking long walks around sunset. Studies show that while speed daters are looking for all manner of important things like attitudes to religion, fidelity, education and intelligence, in 8 minutes all it comes down to is physical attractiveness – they put a value on their beauty and go for something of equal beauty – women went for men of medium build and men for thin women.

To uncover the best type of chat-up lines, researchers compared the conversations of participants rated as very desirable by their dates with those seen as especially undesirable. Those highly skilled in seduction encouraged their dates to talk about themselves in an unusual, quirky, way. The most memorable lines from the top-rated man and woman in the study illustrate the point. The top-rated male’s best line was: ‘If you were on Stars In Their Eyes, who would you be?’ whilst the top-rated female asked: ‘What’s your favourite pizza topping?’ In contrast, failed Casanovas tended to be far less creative, employing old chestnuts like ‘Do you come here often?’ or struggling to impress with comments such as ‘I have a PhD in computing’. Talking about travel was better than movies – anything that avoided conflict and men interjecting with hmmm and ah ha, and women with modulated voices, did much better.

Marc: Thanks Lish! Great story. The Mr Science show plans on featuring a few other guest writers in the future.

PS I'm a long ring fingered, Director INFP (Meyers-Briggs) - a weird combo.

Listen to this show here


  1. great story, must use the 'pizza toping' line next time... you'd be interested to know Catalyst, ABC, are doing a science and dating show next do I know?..just been thru the program with them...yes, and have blogged the you do.

  2. Hey there,

    Thanks for the comment and the links on your site - I'll definitely be checking out this Catalyst story! I vouch for the 'pizza topping' line - but that's a story for another day.

    Cat's experiment blog is at

  3. I've always wondered if speed dating gives you enough time.

  4. That's a good question - I'm going to do a catch-up with some speed daters to see how they went, so stay tuned.

  5. Neil Warren, Helen Fisher and Pepper Schwartz, watch out!

  6. great article and if you're keen to try it out online, the Skype guys launched a new service called WooMe

  7. Bradford WalkerJune 27, 2011 4:44 pm

    I want to meet my dream partner. However, I do not use any online site/speed
    dating for searching, because I do not know either it is safe or not
    for me.How can i trust on unknown person with online/speed dating?

  8. Great tips. I've never tried speed dating.

  9. Doing rounds of date with strangers can be fun to do.