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LONDON (Reuters) - Walk tall - it's the short cut to success at speed-dating. In what is billed as the first study of its kind, two academics found there is no short cut to true love.
They calculated that for every inch taller a man is than his speed-dating rivals, the number of women who want to meet him goes up by about five percent.
Reducing the magical chemistry of love at first sight to a set of complicated equations, researchers Michele Belot and Marco Francesconi analysed the choices made by 1,800 men and 1,800 women at 84 speed-dating events across Britain.
Each hopeful pays about 20 pounds and has just three minutes to convince a possible partner of the opposite sex.
The conclusion of the University of Essex study was blunt and to the point: "Women prefer men who are young and tall, while men are more attracted to women who are young and thin."
"What we try to show is that there is a pattern in how people choose each other," Belot told Reuters.
But she readily conceded that science does not have the answer to all affairs of the heart.
"It is true we can explain quite a lot, but there is still a part that is unexplained. That is where love will play a role," she said.
But, in the unforgiving numbers game of love, age is crucial.
Each extra year, in comparison with others in the speed-dating group, reduces a man's chance of finding a partner by four percent. For women it is five percent.
And it is often all about the luck of the draw on the big night.
Should a man of average height turn up at the speed-dating event, all is not lost.
If all his male rivals are short, then women may decide that he does measure up after all.
"We also found that an overweight woman is 16 per cent less likely to receive a proposal from men. Men, on the other hand do not seem to be penalised for being overweight," Belot said.
The survey explodes the myth that blondes always have more fun -- hair colour was not a major issue when speed-dating.
And when the big night was over, women were much pickier than men, choosing only 2.6 men as possible future dates.
To add insult to injury, almost half of the women said they did not want to see any of the men again.