Scientists have found that the more options you have for choosing a lover, the likelier you are to end up with no-one. In a new study British investigators looked at the strange dynamics of choice in speed-dating, a fashionable way for singles to meet.
Speed-daters race through a rota of one-on-one meetings, judging each person for suitability after a conversation of a few minutes that ends when a bell sounds. Assessing large numbers of candidates was not a problem in itself, the researchers found. In fact, many speed-daters found more potential partners when they were able to cast their net into a larger pool.
But this advantage only worked when the available candidates were all broadly similar. When candidates were too dissimilar, speed-daters became confused by many conflicting factors — and often failed to choose anyone. “There are models of human ‘rationality’ which posit that variety is a good thing,” said researcher Alison Lenton at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.