Love in the Time of Algorithms

Researchers Say Online Dating Algorithms Are About as Accurate as Picking Up Strangers in Bars

Dating algorithms are "the real estate agents of love."

The basic premise of OkCupid, Match.com, or eHarmony seems to be that science, or at least math, is a better judge of a potential partner than you are. While you (fallible human) may fall for a winsome smile, the algorithm knows whether that guy or gal is too religious or kinky or short for you to really get along.

However a new report commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science calls bullshit, basically. Along with four other psychology professors, Northwestern’s Eli Finkel found that while dating sites are a “terrific addition,” the algorithms they employ are no better than having a “real estate agent of love,” says Reuters. Does that mean they try to get you to go out with someone who is soulmate-adjacent?

Although Prof. Finkel didn’t have access to the dating sites’ proprietary algorithms, he told Reuters: “The assumption is they work. We reviewed the literature and feel safe to conclude they do not.”

While the algorithm may reduce the number of potential partners from thousands to a few, they have never met and may be as incompatible as two people meeting at random, Finkel said, adding the odds are no better than finding a relationship by strolling into any bar.

We think what Prof. Finkfel meant to say there was, “Drink up, Forever Alones!”

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com

Comments

  1. That’s pretty funny actually