The digital age has spawned a lot of new habits, from walking around with our phones, to demanding High Definition Television, but perhaps nowhere has it had more of a profound effect on our personal relationships than in online dating sites. This according to a team of sociologists, biologists and social scientists who have spent a great deal of time studying the implications of this move from meeting people romantically in person, to meeting them online, and as they describe in their paper published in Association for Psychological Science, it’s neither as good, nor as bad as its reputation seems to warrant.
To find out how endemic online dating has become, the team collectively read and reviewed over 400 studies done by various organizations and groups both in the United States and abroad. In addition, the consulted with several online dating sites and perused the social history of dating as described by several noted social psychologists over the past hundred years.
In so doing, the group discovered a lot about the industry, the people that run the sites, and the people that use them in hopes of meeting that special someone.
After all their research the team created a 64 page document that describes the state of online dating, its apparent impact on dating and changes in dating patterns that have occurred as a result. One of the main highlights was that the group found that approximately 23% of all current heterosexual relationships in existence as of the end of last year came about as a result of using a dating site. That makes online dating second only to meeting through friends as the most popular form of romantic meeting, which is significant considering such an option has only been available for about a decade.
They did find some negatives as well. For example the researchers found no evidence that “science based” claims made by any of the dating sites studied had any greater success rates than sites that simply listed users and their profiles. Also, because of the structure of most dating sites, which they compare to grocery store shelves, they say that there has grown a shopping mentality that fosters a more picky and judgmental average attitude than was seen before online dating became available.
The team also found that the stigma that was associated with online dating in its early years has largely fallen away as many people of both sexes now consider it a very promising way to meet and date people of the opposite sex.