A new study by an ASU professor explains the success of online dating
Online dating can have a certain stigma (and some horror stories too). But now one of the most common ways to meet a romantic partner.
According to a 2013 study by social psychologist JT Cacioppo, the internet is responsible for roughly one in every three marriages. And people who use online dating end up being slightly more satisfied with their relationship and marriage than those who met in a more traditional way.
“If you meet your partner online, you’re happier and less likely to break up or dissolve the marriage,” said Liesel Sharabi, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.
Sharabi wanted to know why.
His findings are outlined in a new study titled “The Enduring Effect of Internet Dating: Online Meetings and the Road to Marriage.” The study was published in the Journal of Communication Research.
Sharabi is the director of ASU’s Relationships and Technology Lab, and has spent more than a decade studying how communication technologies are used to initiate, maintain and dissolve interpersonal relationships.
The study is a rare look at the long-term results of online dating and the inherent factors in computer dating that can contribute to its success. Features like online profiles, algorithms and more can help form connections faster and easier than offline dating.
The researchers worked with a very diverse group between the ages of 21-62. Fifty interviews were conducted with individuals from all over the country. Of those who participated, 66% of the sample were married and 34% were engaged.
The advantage of online
Sharabi’s study explains how the general stages of online dating are different from those in more traditional dating and can impact the satisfaction of the relationship that is formed.
The results of his research presented a comprehensive view of online dating through four stages and 13 subcategories. These stages are not always consecutive.
First, there is a period before even interacting with people online, said Sharabi, which consists of gathering information.
Once you start talking, one advantage of online communication is that people are more likely to ask key questions that they may not be comfortable pursuing in person.
“You might want to know their religion or what their political leanings are or who they voted for,” she said. “But you wouldn’t ask this question on the first date. It would feel uncomfortable.”
Online dating allows participants to get backstory before moving forward.
“You don’t have to worry that you’re going to be six months into a relationship and then learn something that’s a deal breaker,” says Sharabi, who also writes an online dating blog called Dating in the Digital Age for Psychology. Today.
Also, some relationships formed online take more time to develop, says Sharabi, with emotional intimacy before physical intimacy. Apparently this made a good foundation for the future union.
“It shows that waiting a few weeks is the sweet spot where you have time to get to know people before you meet them,” said Sharabi, who also cautioned against waiting too long to meet people.
“One thing I identified in my study was that (online dating) provided the foundation of intimacy – a strong foundation that couples can use to build a relationship on,” she said.
The next step is to take the relationship offline. Sharabi’s research reveals that at this time the couple enters a period of multimodal development that exhibits a technology of lasting influence that continues after meeting in person.
The proof is in the profile
The growth of the multibillion-dollar online dating industry has changed the way people search for others. In addition to eliminating the awkwardness of acquiring key information, Sharabi said that potential partners provide an informative profile that can stop a caressonline dating lingo for approving or disapproving of a potential date.
Compatibility is key, and the more specific the search, the greater the chance to meet others with shared interests.
Sharabi is called a niche dating app that is designed to do just that.
FarmersOnly.com cultivates connections between farmers. Fetchadate.com is an app for dog lovers, and those who think money is the key to a match, go to millionairematch.com.
“There is even a dating app for people with sexually transmitted diseases (PositiveSingles.com),” added Sharabi. “It’s like your singles bar – you move around and check out different people and see what works for you.”
Algorithms don’t solve every problem
Sharabi has done a lot of research on algorithms that, in the sea of singles on any platform, can make the selection process easier and more conducive to meaningful matches.
Some sites match couples based on the qualities of compatibility found in thousands of successful relationships, said Sharabi. But he remains skeptical of this election process.
“There are millions of profiles on this platform and they can not only set you free to search,” he said. “So some of the big platforms customize the game for you. So you’re basically paying for the game.”
Sharabi said some sites apply insights from relationship science to help people make better choices.
“It’s like a huge social experiment,” he explained. “My research shows that a lot of it is placebo – people think they’re working and maybe they’re not. But you know, maybe that plays a role in this as well.
While algorithms can process tangible data – income, career, wealth – they cannot connect people based on more intangible qualities, said Sharabi.
Many online daters who have landed in long-term relationships are asked how they determine compatibility. It is never based on a person’s career, income or education level, Sharabi said.
“They’re talking about personality traits — qualities like kindness and loyalty. Those aren’t things that are picked up by algorithms.
A large pool of potential partners
Sharabi’s research also refers to a study published by James Bossard in the American Journal of Sociology in 1932. It is explained that almost a century ago, marriage usually took place between people who lived in the same neighborhood.
In a small town, it can make some slim pickings. But online dating has broken the barriers caused by geographical distance, allowing for a large volume of opportunities to test the market. Some of the studies correspond with 100 people before choosing a partner.
A research participant said that before online dating, the only way he could have a relationship was if someone chose him, regardless of any common or shared values.
But because online dating provided a large pool to choose from, the chances of finding the perfect person increased.
The downside of online dating
While the study examines the factors that can contribute to the success of online dating, it also reveals the negative aspects of this platform.
According to the research, some participants are so used to meeting people through technology that they pass up the opportunity to talk to the person standing in front of them.
Regardless, Sharabi hopes her research will encourage online dating doubters to stick with the site and eventually meet their match.
“Dating online is far from perfect, and I think many people get so burned out with the process that they start questioning if it actually works for anyone,” said Sharabi. “So I hope that people who feel this way can take comfort in this success story and in knowing that some people really find love in online dating.
“I also hope that learning what makes others successful can help them better navigate their own online dating relationships.”