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Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short "dates" usually lasting from three to eight minutes depending on the organization running the event.
At the end of each interval, the organizer rings a bell, clinks a glass, or blows a whistle to signal the participants to move on to the next date.
As reported by the BBC in the Science of Love, it only takes between 90 seconds to 4 minutes of face-to-face interaction to determine attraction, which gives speed dating an advantage over online dating.
While over 100 companies in the US offered speed dating through online registration during the growing of the Internet, between 20 three large speed dating companies emerged with a national footprint in the US, with events in over 50 US cities: Hurrydate, 8Minute Dating and Pre-Dating.
There are many speed dating events now in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
Requirement for each event vary with the organizer.
Specific age range based on gender is a common restriction for events.
Furthermore, issues such as religion, previous marriages, and smoking habits were found to play much less of a role than expected.
A 2006 study in Edinburgh, Scotland showed that 45% of the women participants in a speed-dating event and 22% of the men had come to a decision within the first 30 seconds.