Monday, March 26, 2012
From the WSJ:
And yet, a recent analysis led by the social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University shows there is little reason to believe that these websites are improving dating outcomes. In fact, they might be making things worse.
The problem is that the typical dating site is founded on two false premises. The first is that successful pairing is merely a matter of matching personalities, finding people with compatible temperaments and attitudes. Chemistry.com, for instance, promises to match people based on their neurochemical profiles, while eHarmony.com attempts to measure applicants on 29 dimensions of personality.
In a 2010 study of 23,000 married couples, however, similarity of personality accounted for just 0.5% of spousal satisfaction. In other words, 99.5% of their success together was explained by factors typically excluded from online dating questionnaires. This finding suggests that most of the vaunted algorithms are no more effective than a chance meeting at a bar.
And this leads to the second false premise of Internet dating: that choosing a mate should be a rational choice, in which people carefully comparison-shop for partners. That's the advantage, after all, of having millions of profiles to choose from. Rather than being misled by our instincts on a first date, we can calmly sort through the alternatives and find the best possible spouse, the would-be soul mate who will maximize our romantic utility.
Read more here.