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Language of Speed Dating

February 25, 2015

A linguist looks at the dynamics of speed dating.



Speed dating science. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For people looking for love, speed dating is a way to get down to business: instead of hanging around in bars, men and women sit down for quick one-on-one discussions, and then decide who they want to see again. For Stanford linguist and computer scientist Dan Jurafsky, it’s an ideal set up for learning about romantic dynamics—what sort of encounter sparks mutual interest?

Dan Jurafsky (Stanford University):

Speed dates worked well when the men focused on the women, and the women talked about themselves. So you might have imagined that men have big egos and they would talk about themselves a lot on these dates, and what we found is the dates went well when that didn’t happen.


He says among his young student volunteers, women are much choosier than men, so their decisions dominate the interaction. The dynamics may be different with other groups, so it will take more research to see if the findings hold up in a wider population. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.