The science of popularity in dating

I recently watched Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love and I thought it was fascinating, especially the part about beauty, which is taken almost directly from OKCupid’s mathematics of beauty.

It was only a few weeks before I ended up  at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, on their evening sexology event. They had a number of free talks about sex related topics but they also had speed dating.

It’s speed dating, but not as you know it. Although we can’t reveal the exact details of this experiment, you can combine romance with research in this one-of-a-kind speed dating night. It’s fast, fun and you might just find love…

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The speed dating was like the many times I have been before but this time, there was a number of small differences and a big twist which reminded me of the mathematics of love/beauty.

Unlike other speed dating events, we only got to meet/date 8 women in total. Everybody also moved around each time. I thought I spotted the twist by the women I met (most were from the University of Manchester or MOSI staff), I was expecting something along the lines of my experience first time I ever went speed dating in London.

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But … I was pleasantly surprised when after filling in my matches form. I was treated to a form with the popularity of the 8 women I had seen. To make this clear, out of the 8 women I had seen, there was a number of ticks next to them, so you could see how popular they were.

The hypotheses I guess being, would you change your votes if you knew the person you picking is very popular. Or even the opposite way around? This got me thinking, would I change my picks? I generally decide on women based on, would  I want to spend some more time with them beyond the 3mins we had?

I decided recognising what Hannah Fry and OKCupid served up, I’m going to play along and only go with the matches who really excited me in the 3mins. Looking at the tickets, there was a mix of unpopular and very popular, not much in the middle.

Right now we (Chris also took part in the exact same thing) don’t know how the matches work out, but I’m expecting the results in the next few days. Lets hope it worked out after filling out a 130+ questionnaire in the name of science, during the process.

Afterwards there was just enough time to catch the last talk which was about pole dancing. I do wish I could have gone to the other talks but they all ran parallel to the speed dating.

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Generally the whole event was great, but I got the feeling although the speed dating was well thought-out. There was a problem with getting people to commit to the speed dating, but regardless it worked out nicely. As I said before it was the most scientific dating thing I have ever been to, and I have been to quite a few in the past.

Well done to MOSI and I look forward to the next one! Great work… When is the next one?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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