Every time you turn on the TV you are bombarded with one, two, maybe three different online dating site ads. Several profess to match you on a “scientific” level with your potential dates. You know the ones I’m talking about. You might have even tried them, if you lived long enough to complete the very probing questionnaire. Seems pretty legit right? But hold your horses! Apparently a team of psychologist, possible a few who received the infamous “Dear John” email) have, have taken a closer look at the “science” of online dating.
Eli J. Finkel, Ph.D., the lead author of this review, Online, has a lot to say about online dating. According to Dr. Finkel, “Online dating is great. It allows people access to potential partners they otherwise would not have.” Not to bust Dr. Finkel’s chops, but we kind of already knew that. Moving on!
The good Doctor does bring up an interesting point. He states, “Specific things that online dating sites do undermine some of its greatness.” Do tell.
He points out that although profiles cover your personality traits, likes, dislikes, and what you are looking for in a potential “match”, sometimes this information is not exactly useful in identifying a partner. I know that sounds like the complete opposite of everything we’ve ever told you at DatingDiva, but do not panic! What Dr. Finkel is trying to point out is many of us still don’t know exactly who we are looking for. Sound familiar? Remember our little piece a while back “Branding Yourself Online”? If you don’t, or haven’t read it yet take a moment to check it out. A little refresher never hurt anyone. Truly, Dr. Finkel makes a great point. If you don’t know who you’re looking for, how can you expect to find them?
A coauthor to this article, Dr. Harry Reis, points out that the “buffet” of potential dates can cause us to fall into a “shopping mentality”. Dr. Reis states, “Objectifying your potential dates and comparing them like shoes,” is a bad thing. Yes it does seem, a little shallow, but I’m going to have to politely disagree. No, people are not shoes, but in all honesty we all “window shop” before committing to an actual social interaction. I’m not condoning or condemning this approach. It is what it is. I do have this to say, we live in a visual society and when you couple that with “I like what I see and we both like reading/hiking/knitting etc.,” it at least gives people a solid starting point.
The real kicker, for me at least, is the apparent thumbs down given by Dr. Finkel and his group of coauthors on the effectiveness of matchmaking algorithms. As a matter of fact the authors were unable to find a single thorough study showing the effectiveness the matched-by-science-and-algorithm approach.
I hate to argue with an algorithm, but it’s time the truth be known. I have worked with niche dating sites for ten years . I could quote facts and figures supporting their effectiveness, but that would be boring. Not to mention I’ve used the word algorithm so many times I’m afraid I might have nightmares about my high school math teacher. It’s not science, and it certainly isn’t magic. So let me put it this way. When you join a site whose sole purpose is to match people with similar interests guess what? You are much more likely to find exactly who you are looking for!