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Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the

Et dating 2012. Research Article Psychological Science in the Online dating : A Critical Analysis From the Public Interest 13(1) 3 66. The Author(s) 2012. Perspective of Psychological Science Reprints and permission: DOI: Eli J. Finkel1, Paul W. Eastwick2, Benjamin R. Karney3, Harry T. Reis4, and Susan Sprecher5. 1. Northwestern University; 2 Texas A&M University; 3 University of California, Los Angeles;. 4. University of Rochester; and 5 Illinois State University Summary levels of access to potential partners, which is especially Online dating sites frequently claim that they have helpful for singles who might otherwise lack such access. It fundamentally altered the dating landscape for the better.

Online Dating 5 the straightforward claim, “We use math to get you dates” (OkCupid.com, 2011). By referring to millions of users, sci-ence, and math, online dating sites suggest that meeting

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1 Et dating 2012. Research Article Psychological Science in the Online dating : A Critical Analysis From the Public Interest 13(1) 3 66. The Author(s) 2012. Perspective of Psychological Science Reprints and permission: DOI: Eli J. Finkel1, Paul W. Eastwick2, Benjamin R. Karney3, Harry T. Reis4, and Susan Sprecher5. 1. Northwestern University; 2 Texas A&M University; 3 University of California, Los Angeles;. 4. University of Rochester; and 5 Illinois State University Summary levels of access to potential partners, which is especially Online dating sites frequently claim that they have helpful for singles who might otherwise lack such access. It fundamentally altered the dating landscape for the better.

2 This also allows Online daters to use CMC to garner an initial sense article employs psychological science to examine (a) whether of their compatibility with potential partners before deciding Online dating is fundamentally different from conventional whether to meet them face-to-face. In addition, certain dating offline dating and (b) whether Online dating promotes better sites may be able to collect data that allow them to banish from romantic outcomes than conventional offline dating . The the dating pool people who are likely to be poor relationship answer to the first question (uniqueness) is yes, and the answer partners in general. to the second question (superiority) is yes and no.

3 On the other hand, the ways Online dating sites typically To understand how Online dating fundamentally differs implement the services of access, communication, and from conventional offline dating and the circumstances under matching do not always improve romantic outcomes; indeed, which Online dating promotes better romantic outcomes than they sometimes undermine such outcomes. Regarding access, conventional offline dating , we consider the three major encountering potential partners via Online dating profiles services Online dating sites offer: access, communication, reduces three-dimensional people to two-dimensional displays and matching. Access refers to users' exposure to and of information, and these displays fail to capture those opportunity to evaluate potential romantic partners they are experiential aspects of social interaction that are essential otherwise unlikely to encounter.

4 Communication refers to to evaluating one's compatibility with potential partners. In users' opportunity to use various forms of computer-mediated addition, the ready access to a large pool of potential partners communication (CMC) to interact with specific potential can elicit an evaluative, assessment-oriented mindset that partners through the dating site before meeting face-to-face. leads Online daters to objectify potential partners and might Matching refers to a site's use of a mathematical algorithm to even undermine their willingness to commit to one of them. It select potential partners for users. can also cause people to make lazy, ill-advised decisions when Regarding the uniqueness question, the ways in which selecting among the large array of potential partners.

5 Online dating sites implement these three services have indeed Regarding communication, although Online daters can fundamentally altered the dating landscape. In particular, benefit from having short-term CMC with potential partners Online dating , which has rapidly become a pervasive means before meeting them face-to-face, longer periods of CMC. of seeking potential partners, has altered both the romantic prior to a face-to-face meeting may actually hurt people's acquaintance process and the compatibility matching process. romantic prospects. In particular, people tend to overinterpret For example, rather than meeting potential partners, getting the social cues available in CMC, and if CMC proceeds a snapshot impression of how well one interacts with them, unabated without a face-to-face reality check, subsequent and then slowly learning various facts about them, Online face-to-face meetings can produce unpleasant expectancy dating typically involves learning a broad range of facts about violations.

6 As CMC lacks the experiential richness of a face- potential partners before deciding whether one wants to meet to-face encounter, some important information about potential them in person. Rather than relying on the intuition of village partners is impossible to glean from CMC alone; most users elders, family members, or friends or to select which pairs of will want to meet a potential partner in person to integrate unacquainted singles will be especially compatible, certain their CMC and face-to-face impressions into a coherent whole forms of Online dating involve placing one's romantic fate in before pursuing a romantic relationship. the hands of a mathematical matching algorithm.

7 Regarding matching, no compelling evidence supports Turning to the superiority question, Online dating has matching sites' claims that mathematical algorithms work . important advantages over conventional offline dating . For that they foster romantic outcomes that are superior to example, it offers unprecedented (and remarkably convenient) those fostered by other means of pairing partners. Part of 4 Finkel et al. the problem is that matching sites build their mathematical in human history. First, whereas the field of eligibles (Kerck- algorithms around principles typically similarity but also hoff, 1964) for an individual was once limited primarily to complementarity that are much less important to relationship members of that individual's social network, the Internet now well-being than has long been assumed.

8 In addition, these sites affords access to a vastly wider network of potential partners are in a poor position to know how the two partners will grow who would have been unknown or inaccessible in former eras. and mature over time, what life circumstances they will confront Second, whereas interaction between potential partners once and coping responses they will exhibit in the future, and how depended on their proximity to each other, the Internet now the dynamics of their interaction will ultimately promote or facilitates nearly instantaneous communication via multiple undermine romantic attraction and long-term relationship channels ( , text, voice, image, and video) without partners well-being.

9 As such, it is unlikely that any matching algorithm having to be in the same location and even without partners'. that seeks to match two people based on information available conscious awareness ( , by allowing others to view one's before they are aware of each other can account for more than information Online ). Third, whereas the choice of a mate once a very small proportion of the variance in long-term romantic relied largely upon the individual's intuitions and personal outcomes, such as relationship satisfaction and stability. opinions, the Internet promises to create matches between In short, Online dating has radically altered the dating suitable partners using new tools that draw upon data provided landscape since its inception 15 to 20 years ago.

10 Some of the by thousands, or millions, of users. changes have improved romantic outcomes, but many have Recognizing the unique possibilities afforded by the Inter- not. We conclude by (a) discussing the implications of Online net, numerous commercial Web sites have arisen to provide dating for how people think about romantic relationships and these services to users seeking romantic relationships. Specifi- for homogamy (similarity of partners) in marriage and (b) cally, the past 15 to 20 years have witnessed the development offering recommendations for policymakers and for singles of Web-based companies that specialize in providing some seeking to make the most out of their Online dating endeavors.


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