Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science
Many of us enter the dating pool looking for that special someone, but finding a romantic partner can be difficult. With the rise of the digital age, it is no surprise that people have flocked to the Internet as a way to take control of their dating lives and find their “soul-mate.” But is online dating essentially different than conventional dating, and does it promote better romantic outcomes? In this new report, Eli J. Finkel (Northwestern University), Paul W. Eastwick (Texas A & M University), Benjamin R. Karney (UCLA), Harry T. Reis (University of Rochester), and Susan Sprecher (Illinois State University) take a comprehensive look at the access, communication, and matching services provided by online dating sites.
Although the authors find that online dating sites offer a distinctly different experience than conventional dating, the superiority of these sites is not as evident. Dating sites provide access to more potential partners than do traditional dating methods, but the act of browsing and comparing large numbers of profiles can lead individuals to commoditize potential partners and can reduce their willingness to commit to any one person. Communicating online can foster intimacy and affection between strangers, but it can also lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment when potential partners meet in real life. Although many dating sites tout the superiority of partner matching through the use of “scientific algorithms,” the authors find that there is little evidence that these algorithms can predict whether people are good matches or will have chemistry with one another.
The authors’ overarching assessment of online dating sites is that scientifically, they just don’t measure up. As online dating matures, however, it is likely that more and more people will avail themselves of these services, and if development — and use — of these sites is guided by rigorous psychological science, they may become a more promising way for people to meet their perfect partners.
Hear author Eli J. Finkel discuss the science behind online dating at the 24th APS Annual Convention.
Editorial: Online Dating: The Current Status —and Beyond
By Arthur Aron
I agree wholeheartedly that so-called scientific dating sites are totally off-base. They make worse matches than just using a random site. That’s because their matching criteria are hardly scientific, as far as romance goes. They also have a very small pool of educated, older men, and lots more women. Therefore they often come up with no matches at all, despite the fact that women with many different personality types in that age group have joined. They are an expensive rip-off for many women over 45.
Speaking as someone who was recently “commoditized” by who I thought was a wonderful man I met on a dating site, I find that the types of people who use these services are looking at the wrong metrics when they seek out a prospective love interest. My mother and father had very few hobbies and interests in common, but because they shared the same core values, their love endured a lifetime. When I got dumped because I didn’t share my S.O.’s interests exactly down the line, I realized how dangerous this line of thinking truly is, how it marginalizes people who really want to give and receive love for more important reasons.
I met a few potential love interests online and I never paid for any matching service! I did my own research on people and chatted online within a site to see if we had things in common. If we had a few things in common, we exchanged numbers, texted for a while, eventually spoke on the phone and if things felt right, we’d meet in a public place to talk. If that went well, we would have another date. I am currently with a man I met online and we have been together for two years! We have plans to marry in the future. But there is always the thought that if this doesn’t work out, how long will it take either of us to jump right back online to find the next possible love connection? I myself would probably start looking right away since looking for love online is a lengthy process!
I knew this man 40 years ago as we worked in the same agency for two years but never dated. Last November 2013 I saw his profile on a dating site. My husband had died four years ago and his wife died 11 years ago. We dated for five months. I questioned him about his continued online search as I had access to his username. Five months into the friendship he told me he “Was looking for his dream women in cyberspace”. I think he has been on these dating sites for over 5 years. Needless to say I will not tolerate this and it was over.
I am sad, frustrated and angry how this ended as underneath all of his insecurities, unresolved issues with his wife’s death he is a good guy. I had been on these dating sties for 2 and 1/2 years and now I am looking at Matchmaking services as a better choice in finding a “Better good guy”.
I refer to these sites as “Designer Dating” sites. I liken the search process to ‘Window Shopping’. No-one seems very interested in making an actual purchase or commitment. I notice that all the previous comments are from women only. I agree with the article that says essentially, there are too many profiles and photos. Having fallen under this spell myself…”Oh, he’s nice but I’m sure there’s something better on the next page…” Click. Next. And on it goes. The term Chemistry gets thrown around a lot. I don’t know folks. I sure ain’t feelin’ it. Think I’ll go hang out with some friends now.
Stumbling upon this article during research for my Master thesis and I am curious: Would you use an app, that introduces a new way of dating, solely based on your voice and who you are, rather than how you look like? To me, we don’t fall in love with someone because of their looks (or their body mass index for that matter) or because of an algorithm, but because of the way somebody makes you feel and the way s.o. makes you laugh. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if someone has blue or brown eyes and my experience is, that most people place fake, manipulated or outdated pictures online to sell someone we don’t really are. And we are definitely more than our looks. I found my partner online and we had no picture of each other for three months – but we talked every night for hours…. fell in love and still are after 10 years… We met on a different level and got aligned long before we met. So, the question is, would you give this way of meeting someone a chance… an app where you can listen in to answers people give to questions other user asked before and where you can get a feeling for somebody before you even see them?
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