Stanford online dating study
More than a third of recent marriages in the USA started online, according to a study out Monday that presents more evidence of just how much technology has taken hold of our lives."Societally, we are going to increasingly meet more of our romantic partners online as we establish more of an online presence in terms of social media," says Caitlin Moldvay, a dating industry senior analyst for market research firm IBISWorld in Santa Monica, Calif."I do think mobile dating is going to be the main driver of this growth."The research, based on a survey of more than 19,000 individuals who married between 20, also found relationships that began online are slightly happier and less likely to split than those that started offline.Lead author John Cacioppo, a psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, says dating sites may "attract people who are serious about getting married."While Cacioppo is a noted researcher and the study is in a prestigious scientific journal, it is not without controversy.It was commissioned by the dating website e Harmony, according to the study's conflict of interest statement.A meta-analysis in the journal Evidence Based Medicine from Queen Mary University of London found that successful online dating profile photos included not just selfies, but group photos.To really nail it, get right in the middle and touch someone else — but only on the upper arm.Other new data released last month from a Pew Research Center survey found that just 15% of Americans report not using the Internet.Cacioppo defends the results, and says that before he agreed to analyze the data, "I set stipulations that it would be about science and not about e Harmony." He adds that two independent statisticians from Harvard University were among co-authors."I had an agreement with e Harmony that I had complete control and we would publish no matter what we found and the data would be available to everyone," he says.
The researchers set up a series of speed dating events for Stanford graduate students, recorded each individual date, and used software to analyze those conversations.
In addition, former e Harmony researcher Gian Gonzaga is one of the five co-authors."It's a very impressive study," says social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
"But it was paid for by somebody with a horse in the race and conducted by an organization that might have an incentive to tell this story."Does this study suggest that meeting online is a compelling way to meet a partner who is a good marriage prospect for you? But it's "premature to conclude that online dating is better than offline dating."The findings about greater happiness in online couples "are tiny effects," says Finkel,whose research published last year found "no compelling evidence" to support dating website claims that their algorithms work better than other ways of pairing romantic partners.
Company officials say e Harmony paid Harris Interactive 0,000 to field the research.
Cacioppo has been a member of e Harmony's Scientific Advisory Board since it was created in 2007.