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Turns out, a lot of the same mating psychology applies, with a few exceptions.
For the most part, research and the dating sites themselves agree that the biggest difference in online dating vs.
The old paradigm for online dating was a website like e Harmony or You quickly browse photos on your phone, swiping to the right if the photo appeals, to the left if it doesn’t.
Courtesy of an elaborate algorithm, you studied detailed profiles of potential dates, initiated contact through an anonymized email system and, if you got a response, began a conversation that might lead to a date. If the attraction is mutual — that is, if both of you have swiped right — you might try to set up a date for, say, five minutes later.
These new websites and apps provide very little profile information with the majority of the focus on a quick evaluation of a picture to initiate contact.
But, because many of these are now apps used on mobile phones, a gamification behavior has resulted – where the process of rating profiles or amassing “followers” or “likes” has become the goal as opposed to actually meeting offline and pursuing a relationship – a behavior now known as “relationshopping.” Which also falls in line with the Pew report that despite these new tools, the majority of relationships are beginning offline, with 88% of Americans with a partner for five years or less reporting they met without the help of a dating site or app.
So have we learned anything since the first dating site was launched in 1995, 20 years ago?
More important, superficiality is actually Tinder’s greatest asset.
One study (which I worked on) demonstrated that such information was highly ineffective at predicting initial attraction; another study found that such information was nearly useless in predicting satisfaction in long-term relationships.
As almost a century of research on romantic relationships has taught us, predicting whether two people are romantically compatible requires the sort of information that comes to light only after they have actually met. But the rise of smartphone-based dating has made me more sanguine. It doesn’t let people browse profiles to find compatible partners, and it doesn’t claim to possess an algorithm that can find your soul mate.
We concluded that online dating had produced one immense benefit for singles: It expanded the pool of potential partners.
But there was also a big problem: The industry’s two major ideas about how singles should get access to one another were misguided.
And a study from the Pew Research Center reported as recently as April of 2015 that only 5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship report they met their significant other online.