HEALTH.COM - Feb 7 - "Online dating is great. It allows people access to potential partners they otherwise would not have," says Eli J. Finkel, Ph.D., the lead author of the new review, which was commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science. One of the weaknesses of online dating is an over reliance on "profiles". Although most dating websites feature photos and detailed, searchable profiles covering everything from personality traits to likes and dislikes, this information isn't necessarily useful in identifying a partner, Finkel and his coauthors write. That's partly because daters don't always know what they want in a mate. The abundance of profiles online also may make daters too picky and judgmental. "Online dating creates a shopping mentality, and that is probably not a particularly good way to go about choosing a mate," says Harry Reis, Ph.D. eHarmony and PerfectMatch.com, claim to minimize the guesswork involved in online dating by using mathematical algorithms to match couples according to various traits -- including, in one case, the ratio of index- to ring-finger length. The authors of the review are skeptical of these claims. They weren't able to find a single rigorous study showing the effectiveness of the algorithms, and other research suggests it's extremely difficult to predict the likelihood that a relationship will succeed before two people meet. None of this, however, means that online dating isn't a good way to meet people. Finkel advises online daters to identify promising partners and move the conversation off-line as quickly as possible.
by Amanda Gardner
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