The Odds are Good, in Finding Love, but How Good are the Goods?
A very thorough scientific analysis of online dating was recently published by Finkel, et al. (2012). In an interesting 64 page article, they overview the history of matchmaking, social psychological theories of relationships, and compare online dating to conventional dating. By: Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D
The authors ask some important questions about finding love. For example, is online dating different than conventional offline dating? Is it better? And, can mathematical algorithms create good love matches? These are ideal questions for social psychologists. They pull on years of social psychological theory and they are testable. In other words, they are empirical questions.
Online dating is not as new as I thought it was. Finkel et al. (2012) say that as early as 1959 a class of Stanford math students created a final project called “Happy Families Planning Services.” They programmed an IBM 650 computer to pair up 49 men and 49 women. Couples were computer matched based on their differences on a survey questionnaire of demographic data, personality traits, and interests. Though never developed beyond a class project, this computer matching program did result in one marriage.