Psychological effects of internet dating
While categories such as "through friends", "in a bar", and "at school/work" were either declining or holding steady, one category has exploded in the last decade: "met online".According to these stats, 20 percent of heterosexual couples sampled, and nearly 70 percent of same-sex couples met this way and its growth shows no signs of abating.
For those actively looking for a relationship (or at least no-strings fun), there is no shortage of websites available, from straight up dating sites like OKCupid, e Harmony and Match to niche communities like Tastebuds (music matching), JDate (for Jewish singles) and even the eyebrow raising Clown Passions (you can guess).A recent paper from the Association of Psychological Science was pretty clear that there's little evidence for any matching algorithm's scientific merit ("no compelling evidence supports matching sites" claims that mathematical algorithms work"), but the OKCupid users I spoke to generally seemed to believe there was something in it -- even if it was just filtering out their polar opposites.In fact in some cases, the subtext was that it worked a bit too well: "The guy with the highest match percentage that I went on dates with seemed more like a friend, though.We were eerily similar in some ways," one woman confided.The usual criticism of online dating is that it's a hive of airbrushed photos and downright lies, and while there seem to be small deviations from the truth, most experienced daters I spoke to said the people they had met had for the most part represented themselves fairly.A couple of scientific studies come to slightly more critical conclusions, one saying that a third of pictures could be considered misleading, while the other concluding that misinformation was ubiquitous but in a very mild way: an inch added to the height, or a pound taken off the weight.
Anything more obvious than this would of course cause problems when the eventual meetup occurs -- it's easy to overlook someone being an inch shorter than advertised, but night on impossible to successfully hide a five stone weight gain without repercussions.
The study concludes that these small lies were not merely self-deceptions, but deliberate.
While these sites vary in terms of features and cost, the basic setup is the same each time: you create a profile, upload a picture and then send out messages to those who seem your type.
As a rule of thumb, women are inundated with messages and replies, while men barely get any, as demonstrated by a fascinating experiment involving dummy accounts on OKCupid here.
In summary, over four months with identical profile content the subjectively most attractive female avatar had maxed out "her" inbox with 528 messages, while the most handsome male account had received just 38.[pullquote source="Keep Inline]All but the most basic online dating sites include some kind of algorithm to try and partner customers up with someone they'll hit it off with, with varying degrees of scientific hype behind their advertising copy.
The notion that "opposites attract" is completely bulldozed over, for the quite legitimate fear of inundating each dater with people they will absolutely despise.