Study Hall: Finding love online may be harder than you think


Matching algorithms used by dating sites aren’t capable of predicting long-term relationship compatibility, says a new study. Chemistry's better tested offline.

online dating

According to a study in Psychological Science in the Public Interest (published this month), online dating sites like eHarmony.com and Match.com help people meet, but they’re not very good at guaranteeing long-term romantic bliss.

The study: Researchers, led by Eli Finkel of Northwestern University, conducted an extensive study of online dating by examining matchmaking algorithms, reading hundreds of psychological studies, and interviewing dating website CEOs. (We’re thinking they also had to look at a lot of badly written personal profiles.)

The results: The study found that the matching algorithms used by dating sites don’t follow any scientific standards and aren’t capable of predicting long-term relationship compatibility. To date, there is no compelling evidence that any online dating matching algorithm actually works,” said Finkel, in a press release. Dating profiles and online communication were also found to be poor substitutes for face-to-face contact in terms of predicting romantic chemistry.

What it means: The internet may be a great way to meet people, but the benefit stops there. Don’t waste weeks texting and emailing before meeting for a latte: only some good old-fashioned eye contact and conversation can determine whether your match is someone you’ll want wake up next to for the long-term. —Allison Becker

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