Dating for scientists
In essence, the researchers had ripped apart the unscientific claims of dating websites with three compelling arguments 1) no one knows the recipe for love, so a man-made algorithm can’t fare any better 2) scanning profiles leads us to select on superficial traits, and 3) online communicating is a really bad way to start off a love affair. Impossible Claims From Algorithms “We might compare the understanding and prediction of romantic outcomes to attempts to understand and predict the stock market,” the research asserted.
“Although economists know a great deal about how the stock market behaves and why, attempts to predict the behavior of the market at a specific point in the future have limited accuracy.” If you think about it, dating sites basically claim to predict the future, arguing that they have a crystal ball with a higher probability of users ending up in romantic utopia.
From our friends the researchers, “The browsing process can cause users to objectify potential partners, commoditizing them as options available in a marketplace of profiles.” Social scientists see this as a perfect case of the ‘paradox of choice,’ when increasing options decreases satisfaction.
It’s a funny assumption, because even the bleeding edge of social science, which arguably has access to a lot more accurate data than e Harmony, is really quite bad at predicting human behavior.
The normally poor state of social forecasting is compounded by the fact that individuals, in general, are terrible at knowing what they want in a significant other.
Per the researchers,”people’s idiosyncratic self-reported preferences for certain characteristics in hypothetical romantic partners appear to be irrelevant to their romantic outcomes with specific potential partners they have actually met in person.” Another study found that College students who attended a speed dating event 10 days after evaluating potential study buddies online ended up being physically attracted, but not romantically, to the people they met in person who had their ideal traits.
Indeed, middle-aged couples who have strong preferences for particular traits were just as head-over-heels with their long-term partner whether they possessed those characteristics.