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Grading the online dating industry
Date:2/6/2012

cedures that these sites use."

The authors suggest that the existing matching algorithms neglect the most important insights from the flourishing discipline of relationship science. The algorithms seek to predict long-term romantic compatibility from characteristics of the two partners before they meet. Yet the strongest predictors of relationship well-being, such as a couple's interaction style and ability to navigate stressful circumstances, cannot be assessed with such data.

According to Finkel, "developers of matching algorithms have tended to focus on the information that is easy for them to assess, like similarity in personality and attitudes, rather than the information that relationship science has found to be crucial for predicting long-term relationship well-being. As a result, these algorithms are unlikely to be effective."

Many online dating sites market their ability to offer online daters access to a huge number of potential partners. However, online profiles are a feeble substitute for face-to-face contact when it comes to the crucial task of assessing romantic chemistry. Furthermore, browsing through all those online profiles may overwhelm people or encourage them to treat their search more like shopping than mate-finding, which can lead singles to pass over potential partners who are actually well-suited to them.

Finkel and his co-authors conclude that online dating is successful insofar as it rapidly helps singles meet potential partners in person, so that they can discover whether a romantic spark is there. The chats and messages people send through online dating sites may even help them to convey a positive initial impression, as long as people meet face-to-face relatively quickly.

Given the potentially serious consequences of intervening in people's romantic lives, the authors hope that this report will push proprietors to build a more rigorous scientific foundation for online dating services. In a pr
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Contact: Divya Menon
dmenon@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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