Online Dating’s Fatal Flaws

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Researches recently published a book-length article in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest on the scientific flaws of online dating. They wrote a layperson’s summary for Scientific American, but even that was three pages long (practically an eternity in internet time). So here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

Online dating’s first big weakness: the overdependence on proflie browsing, since studies show that singles CANNOT get a good sense of whether they’d be compatible with a potential partner based on that person’s profile.

Online dating’s second big weakness: the overheated emphasis on matching algorithms, since there is no evidence supporting the claims of sites using such algorithms — the available evidence suggests that the mathematical algorithms at matching sites are negligibly better than matching people at random.


  1. I met my husband online 7 years ago. We met in a chat room and neither of us were “looking”. We were just friends then met a year later as he was going on holiday all over the US with his family and they were going to be in San Francisco. We hit it off, started dating and he flew over from the UK every couple months for a couple weeks for a year. He stayed with me when he was over and because we didn’t “date” but we didn’t live together, we got to know each other a lot. We got married 4 years ago and I couldn’t be happier.

  2. Dating websites have one good feature that makes them work reasonably well. It matches you with people in your area who are looking for a similar level of commitment.
    This is a huge help for those of us who are somewhat introverted and can’t stand trying to meet people in loud crowded places. Call me crazy but I’d rather be able to talk to people without shouting and get to know people in a little more intimate setting.

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