Online Dating Sites: Second Form of Matchmaking

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Online Dating StatisticsA new study found that online dating websites make people have a higher standard when shopping for a lifetime partener. The study being published in the February issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest finds out the truth in the billion dollar industry of online dating. Reseachers analyzed more than 400 studies done about online dating.

Those online dating services offer a matchmaking algorithm to help you find your lifetime partner. In the study, they say those scientific algorithms aren’t any more acurate than meeting a stranger. Study author Dr. Eli Finkel, associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University wrote, “To date, there is no compelling evidence that any online dating matching algorithm actually works. If dating sites want to claim that their matching algorithm is scientifically valid, they need to adhere to the standards of science, which is something they have uniformly failed to do. In fact, our report concludes that it is unlikely that their algorithms can work, even in principle, given the limitations of the sorts of matching procedures that these sites use.”

While online dating sites have become the second form of matchmaking in the United States next to meeting someone through a mutual friend. In a study, scientists found that in April 2011, there were almost 25 million users on the online dating sites. Study co-author Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the university, said in a written statement, “Online dating is definitely a new and much needed twist on relationships. Studies in behavioral economics show that the dating market in Western society is grossly inefficient, particularly once people leave high school or college. The Internet holds great promise for helping adults form healthy and supportive romantic partnerships, and those relationships are one of the best predictors of emotional and physical health.”

Men and women behave differently on the sites for dating. A 2010 study of 6,485 users of a major online dating site found that men viewed three times more profiles than women did (597,169 to 196,363). Men were approximately 40 percent more likely to initiate contact with a woman after viewing her profile than women were after viewing a man’s profile (12.5 to 9 percent).

Online dating sites can also lead people to disappointment. Having so many profiles to sift through and “shop” for a mate leads to people feeling overwhelmed and less satisfied. In the study scientists compare this to an experiment done with chocolate.  “No studies in the romantic domain have examined satisfaction with choices after selecting from larger versus small choice sets of potential partners, but research outside the romantic domain suggests that people are likely to be less satisfied when choosing from a larger choice set. For example, people who selected a chocolate from an array of 6 chocolates thought the chocolate tasted significantly better than did participants who selected their chocolate from an array of 30, and they chose to be compensated for their research participation in chocolate rather than in cash four times more frequently (48% vs. 12%; Iyengar & Lepper, 2000). Analogously, online daters choosing from relatively large (vs. small) choice sets may be less satisfied with the potential partners they select from those choice set.”

Photo Credit: rochester.edu

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