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60-Second Mind

Why Online Dating Doesn't Work

A team of psychologists reviewed online dating sites and their conclusions are not promising. Christie Nicholson reports

Online dating might give you something, but it's probably not a soul mate.

 

Most sites rely on what’s called an "exclusive process"—they use an algorithm to find romantic matches based variables, from interests to fetishes. But now a team of psychologists from five universities has performed a systematic review. And they say that most claims for the power of the "exclusive process" don’t pan out. Their report is in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

 

The existing "matching algorithms" miss key variables for long-term love. They necessarily make matches before the parties meet. But studies show that the strongest predictors of solid relationships are a couple’s live interaction style and ability to handle stress. Data about characteristics like personality and attitudes cannot accurately predict how that real life interaction will function.


The scientists also note that online profile photos are poor proxies for the chemistry sparked by meeting in the flesh. Which leads to a lot of disappointing coffee dates. And many potentially successful matches never happen.  

 

Of course the researchers admit online dating helps singles meet more people more quickly. And so might still lead to that magic match. But that’s statistics, not psychology.

 

—Christie Nicholson

 

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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