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Deciding factors in speed dating

Speed-dating events are popular ways for singles to meet potential romantic partners.
Speed-dating events are popular ways for singles to meet potential romantic partners.
  • People are overwhelmed with dating choices at huge speed-dating events, study finds
  • At small events, choices may be based on education level and employment
  • At big events, study found romantic picks based on height and weight
  • Dating
  • Body Weight

(CNN) -- Forget high-paying jobs, kindness or a sense of humor. When people go looking for love at big speed-dating events, they have so many choices that they narrow their criteria down to height and weight, a new study finds.

Previous studies found consumers to be overwhelmed if they faced too many choices at grocery stores. So two British scientists wondered if the human brain also became overwhelmed by too many potential partners in the dating marketplace.

University of Edinburgh psychological scientist Alison Lenton and University of Essex economist Marco Francesconi analyzed 84 speed-dating events. The results of their study are published in the journal Psychological Science.

The men and women at the events would meet with a series of potential dates for about three minutes each. And at the end of the evening, they would turn in their yes and no choices.

The preferences at all the events tended to be people who were taller, younger and well-educated. Women also rejected men who were too skinny, while men tended to reject overweight women.

But the study found that at smaller events with fewer decisions to be made, the choosers had time to consider a potential partner's level of education, employment and whether they smoked -- all attributes that require some conversation.

But at events with 24 or more potential dates, choosers narrowed their decisions with parameters that could be determined in a quick glance: height and weight.

The scientists concluded that the dating environment can have a big effect on someone's romantic future.