Science News

How Long Does it Take To Fall in Love ?

Sun, 13th Feb 2005

Part of the show Science of Sex, Smell and Pheromones...

It seems that not even falling in love is safe from the clutches of science. Demonstrating that scientists can be trendy, psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania in America have been investigating the phenomenon of speed-dating. After studying over 10,000 speed-daters they’ve come up with some surprising results. Some people say they're looking for one kind of person, then choose another. Other people say that don't even know what they're looking for. But the researchers found that, however it happens, people know love – and spot it quickly – when they see it. The scientists found that people generally understand their own worth on the dating market, so they are able to judge each others' potential compatibility within moments of meeting. During speed dates, the participants have three minutes to get to know someone. However, the American researchers found that most participants made their decision based on the information that they probably got in the first three seconds. Psychologists often tell us that relationships are a bit like shopping - people select mates based on the qualities they have to offer, such as power, money, nice car and so on. But the Pennsylvania scientists found that when people meet face-to-face, things like smoking preferences and bank accounts don't seem to figure. Somewhat surprisingly, factors that you might think would be really important to people, like religion, education and income, played very little role in a person’s choice of who they would like to see again. It turns out that in a speed-dating situation, people use their hearts and go on first impressions, rather than using their heads to work out if it’s a good idea. Ahhh, how romantic!

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