We already know that online dating can be impersonal, inefficient and sometimes humiliating. New independent research from Northwest University confirms that while being able to know who is single helps, the shallow profile view and the vague algorithms of online dating don’t help people determine compatibility.
“Online dating is a terrific addition for singles to meet. That said, there are two problems,” report author Eli Finkel, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, said in an interview.
“First, poring over seemingly endless lists of profiles of people one does not know, as on Match.com, does not reveal much about them. Second, it overloads people and they end up shutting down,” Finkel said.
He compared it to shopping at “supermarkets of love” and said psychological research shows people presented with too many choices tend to make lazy and often poor decisions.
“According to relationship research, mobile dating with iPhone apps is a more successful way for couples to meet than through traditional online dating services.”
But why is mobile dating with iPhone apps better?
“Finkel finds a better option for matchmaking is the use of the 3rd generation of online dating—mobile dating through the use of iPhone apps. Mobile dating is a relatively new concept resulting from smart phone technology that brings together potential partners face-to-face quickly to see if that initial “spark” of love ignites when a new couple first meets.
The study points out that the power of apps and global positioning systems can function together by informing users of potential partners in the immediate vicinity such as at a train station or a museum for a quick get together if their profiles appear promising. From a biological perspective, it’s not unlike an animal catching a scent in the wind when a receptive mate is nearby.
“GPS features on smartphone apps can tell you who is nearby and willing to be browsed,” Finkel said. “With a little bit of basic information, potential daters can get together right away for a quick face-to-face meet-up. There’s no better way to figure out whether you’re compatible with somebody than talking to them over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer.”
The value to mobile dating is that it gets people face-to-face both quickly and effectively, which in effect is streamlining the dating process toward maximal efficiency.
Not all mobile dating apps are created equal.
If the app is just a mobile version of an online dating service, it’s likely to be using the same match algorithm, just rendered for a mobile device, so do your research!
Perhaps it takes into account the types of places users go (using manual check-ins or automatic GPS) and introduces them to people with similar behaviours? Or maybe it just uses GPS to let anyone in your immediate vicinity text you, like on Grindr? Get contacted enough by undesirables with short propositions and you’ll soon switch off the GPS function, leaving you where most online daters end up – frustrated!
If you don’t want to accelerate or amplify the same experience as online, choose your app wisely.
Tingle does three key things that are different from other mobile, and online, dating services:
1. It has a gateway whereby you can’t be messaged or called unless you accept someone’s wink – so you don’t get overwhelmed with spam by people who you’re not attracted to.
2. It helps you build rapport and determine if there’s chemistry by letting you voice chat with another member within the app well before many time-sucking emails have passed between you.
3. It introduces you to people who match your criteria IF they approach your vicinity (if you switch the radar function on) so you can choose to strike up a conversation with the right someone, whether you’re in a bookstore, bar or on a bus.
Online dating is time consuming, and riddled with legacy features that get in the way of genuinely getting to know someone.
Tingle’s mobile-only dating app helps people easily discover, communicate with and explore other people with safety and serendipity – and leaves the compatibility up to the two people who can determine it best.
This service helps Mr Right, Miss This-Could-Go-Somewhere AND Mr Right-Now.
Internet Cupids often miss their mark-researchers, Reuters, 7 Feb 2012.
Mobile Dating With iPhone Apps Beats Online Dating
The Truth About Online Dating, Finkel et al.
Finkel’s study will be appearing in a forthcoming journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The authors hope their report will push proprietors to build a more rigorous scientific foundation for online dating services. Co-authors of the study are Paul Eastwick, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M University; Benjamin Karney, professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles; Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester; and Susan Sprecher, professor of sociology and psychology at Illinois State University.