Recent Internet studies have brought “compatibility” and “compatible matches” to the public’s attention. In addition, the publicity from the sites has drawn public’s attention to relationship science and its potential role in helping to create compatible matches. Although a compatible match (e.g., similarity) is one major factor leading to relationship compatibility (i.e., satisfaction, commitment), many other factors play a role as well. Some dating sites recognize this. For example, eHarmony has advertised that they use science not only to help in mate selection, but also for “relationship enhancement.” Relationship information, based on scientific research, is available on their website to help couples maintain their relationship and achieve happiness.
In the last section of this article, I reviewed what public domain information reveals about scientific-based compatibility at the Internet dating sites. There is some “compatibility” between the sites’ science and the published science on relationships, but also some “incompatibility.” For example, there is very little evidence in the published science that complementarity can lead to long-term compatibility, although this is a principle used at some of the sites for matching. In addition, even when the similarity principle is emphasized at the sites, it is sometimes in regard to variables that have not been investigated in prior scientific literature. , 2009), it is unclear whether the scientific-based matching sites also use this principle in their matching.
Regardless of the validity of the science at the matching sites, one important function they offer is to provide legitimization for matches, similar to that provided by other third parties. My first scientific paper, at the first International Conference on Personal Relationships (Madison, Wisconsin, USA, in 1982), was a paper on the legitimizing factors in the initiation of relationships (ater, & Smith, 1982). Based on a random sample of college sophomores at the University of Wisconsin, we discussed the important role of friends and family in introducing romantic free local hookup Salt Lake City partners. Let me end this paper, written almost 30 years after my first conference paper, by stating that this legitimization factor may also be an important function served by the scientific-based Internet matching. Even if the science behind the compatibility matching does not result in relationships that are any more compatible than those formed through traditional ways of meeting, the science-based matches, similar to a friend-initiated matches, provide a “legitimization” of the relationship. The sites can vouch for the fact that based on their matching procedures, this is not a poor match, and may even be a very compatible one.
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