…online dating

What does this have to do with my WebTechIssues A to Z, you might ask. However, with 17 million singles in Germany online dating has a large target group, offering space for many businesses. Jost Schwaner, CEO of ElitePartner, Germany’s most popular dating agency insists that by 2015 more than half of all couples will find each other via internet.

Who uses online dating?

Dr. Jan Skopek, sociologist and executive director of the NEPS Data Center, found the following when doing research on digital mating behavior:
60% of all users are male and especially younger. In Germany the average is user of an online dating agency is 31 years old.
(To compare: The average age in Germany is 48 years, the average internet user is about 39 years old.) On the whole, especially those people who have restricted dating chances in the “offline world” use online dating agencies. And this does not necessarily mean the ugly ones! Think of, for example, well-educated engineers: in their male dominated work place they have lower chances to get to know their future wife.Regarding women, especially those with high education use online dating. However, nearly all users, no matter of which sex they are, cheat in their profiles. In her study “The Truth about Lying in Online Dating Profiles” Catalina Toma, PhD and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reveals that 81% of all users change their data concerning weight or height.

[How] does it work?

“Love does not happen by chance”, states ElitePartner. “Our Relationship Questionnaire helps us understand what makes you unique, which means we only introduce you to people we think you’ll really click with” advertises eharmony. Such a “Relationship Questionnaire” or “Matching Algorithm” is the justification of every online dating agency to be the best. A mathematical algorithm is supposed to identify potential partners the user is likely to connect with easily. The main thought underlying such algorithms is that “some pairs of potential partners will ultimately experience better romantic outcomes, than other pairs of potential partners because the individuals are more romantically compatible from the start.”

It seems like there was a secret formula that showed us our perfect partner, if we fed it with our data, complains Divya Menon from aps and accordingly Eli Finkel, Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Northwestern University, recognizes that “there is no compelling evidence that any online dating matching algorithm actually works. If dating sites want to claim that their matching algorithm is scientifically valid, they need to adhere to the standards of science, which is something they have uniformly failed to do.” Nevertheless he admits that “online dating is a marvelous addition to the ways in which singles can meet potential romantic partners.” In their online article “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science” a group of scientists found that “the existing matching algorithms neglect the most important insights from the flourishing discipline of relationship science. The algorithms seek to predict long-term romantic compatibility from characteristics of the two partners before they meet. Yet the strongest predictors of relationship well-being, such as a couple’s interaction style and ability to navigate stressful circumstances, cannot be assessed with such data.”