Characteristics of Online Daters and Speed Daters

This study examined the characteristics of individuals who are more likely to engage in speed dating and online dating, and the types of people who are more likely to prefer these forms of dating. Older individuals and those who scored high on shyness were more likely to have tried online dating.

Older individuals, those who scored high on shyness, and those who had tried online dating were more likely to consider using it in the future. Younger individuals were more likely to have tried speed dating. Those who had already tried speed dating were more likely to consider using it in the future. We argue here that online dating offers some advantages for shy individuals.

Defining online dating and speed dating

Although there are numerous companies worldwide that run online dating sites and hold speed dating events, they do so using fairly similar formulae. Online dating sites are:

Similar to newspaper personals (but with much more information) individuals construct a profile, describing themselves and often providing photographs of themselves and sometimes sound bites and video. Users typically have to pay to use this service and once they identify a person whose profile they like, online contact is made through the system to gauge whether the other individual might also be interested. From there, individuals typically organize to meet face-to-face.

McCann (2005) writes that speed dating is an event that can attract as many as 20 to 100individuals. The speed dater is typically given a name badge, a pen, and a scorecard, which has space to note other speed daters? names and badge numbers and boxes to tick off any other speed daters they might be interested in. There is time prior to the event for individuals to mingle and have a sneak preview before the dating commences.

When the event commences the speed daters are directed to the table number that matches the number on their badge and meet their first date. Each dater has about three tonight minutes to chat to their date and make some notes on their scorecard. At the end of the allocated time the host will ring a bell and the men then move to the next place. Once the dating is finished the speed dater typically hands in their scorecard to the host where mutual matches are determined. Contact details are then provided by the host for any mutual matches.

These two forms of matchmaking services are similar and different in a number of ways. Both are formal services designed to matchmaker and singles are typically expected to pay for these services. Hence, singles act more as consumers and conceivably have higher expectations that they will find a partner than more informal ways of meeting potential romantic partners (e.g., through friendship networks).

An obvious difference between the two methods is that speed dating allows individuals to first encounter the other potential match face-to-face, where „ physical chemistry? can be established and singles are required to self-disclose information about themselves immediately (in a synchronous mode) in a very short amount of time. Online dating, in contrast, allows individuals to take their time deciding what information they wish to self-disclose. Interaction takes place and physical chemistry is determined only if two people that on the site decide to communicate and then meet each other face-to-face (Whitty, 2007; Whitty & Carr, 2006). In this way individuals can be more strategic in their presentations of self (Whitty, 2004a, 2007; Whitty & Carr, 2006).

Moreover, individuals have the social distance online that makes it easier to deal with rejection (Whitty, 2003). Another obvious difference between online dating and speed dating is that the number of potential matches that online daters have available (or at least perceive to be available) is greater than the number of potentials perceived by speed daters.


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