Yet we need not be passive victims of our circumstances.Knowing how your environment influences your mind-set, a quality known as ecological rationality, can help you make the choices that are best for you.

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I made some beginner’s mistakes; however, I am not alone in having struggled with speed dating.

Even if meet-and-greet matching events might seem like the most efficient way to comb through many options at once, a wealth of data reveals that the context in which we make a choice weighs heavily on the outcome.

Speed-dating events can promote a particular decision-making style that might not always work in our favor.

One speed-dating company in New York City, for example, holds a gathering almost every day.

Last year online coupon company Groupon hosted the world’s largest speed-dating event, with 414 attendees crammed into a restaurant in Chicago.

Start-up companies now meet with investors, pregnant couples interact with doulas, and homeless dogs court potential owners, all using the speed-dating format.

Some years ago I caved to my curiosity and tried it out myself. When the little buzzer went off after three minutes, I often found myself still trying to explain to my bedazzled dating partner why my last name has four syllables (it is Dutch).

AS A PSYCHOLOGIST, I have always found the concept of speed dating fascinating.

During a series of mini dates, each spanning no more than a couple of minutes, participants in a speed-dating event evaluate a succession of eligible singles.

They make split-second decisions on matters of the heart, creating a pool of information on one of the more ineffable yet vital questions of our time—how we select our mates.

The concept of rapid-fire dating has gained tremendous popularity, spreading to cities all over the world.