OPW - Jan 1 - The internet dating industry has already had significant impact on society. (See what internet dating executives think in this Courtland Brooks white paper). People have more choice and knowledge about suitors than ever before. But does this make them more happy? Dan Gilbert (Harvard Psychology Professor and author of Stumbling On Happiness) is an expert on Happiness and was interviewed in the Jan-Feb 2012 Harvard Business Review. Here's some relevant points.
In general people who are in good romantic relationships are happier than those who aren't. As it turns out, people are not very good at predicting what will make them happier and how long that happiness will last. They expect positive events to make them happier than they do, and negative events to make them unhappier than they do. In both field and lab studies we've found that gaining or losing a romantic partner has less impact on happiness than people think. Very few experiences effect us for more than three months.
People hate being bored. People are happiest when they're appropriately challenged-when they're trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach.
If I had to summarize all the causes of human happiness in one word, that word would be 'social.' We are by far the most social species on earth. If I wanted to predict your happiness, and I could know only one thing about you, I'd want to know about your social network-about your friends and family and the strength of your bonds with them.
The psychologist Ed Diener shows that the frequency of your positive experiences is a better indicator of your happiness than the intensity of your positive experiences. How good your experiences are doesn't matter nearly as much as how many good experiences you have. So wear comfy shoes, give your wife a big kiss and sneak a French fry. The small stuff matters.
There are some lessons in here for designers of internet dating sites. You should aim to keep people more socially engaged and focused while on your site, through learning and social gamification. Which is why I'm headed to the Game Dynamics conference in March in NYC. - Mark Brooks