PlentyofFish. Match.com. OkCupid. eHarmony. These are just a handful of dating websites that offer users the opportunity to seek out romantic partners and, if lucky, develop a fulfilling, committed relationship. Such dating sites promise access to a large selection of potential partners, the ability to communicate virtually with other users prior to meeting face-to-face, and (allegedly) rigorous matching with compatible potential partners. It is unclear, however, whether meeting partners online yields more positive romantic outcomes1 than do more traditional avenues (e.g., meeting a relationship partner through friends or by chance encounter). Should you leave it to your computer to play matchmaker, or are you better to stay offline and wait for Cupid’s arrow to strike?
Entries in paradox of choice (4)
Imagine you’re buying a new cell phone. Would you rather have a ton of different options or only 1-2 choices? Usually, people assume that having more choices is better. In fact, in experiments that mimic game shows (“what’s behind door #1?) people will pay more money to have more options to choose from. But ironically, having more choices can be a source of distress. People feel less satisfied with their decision after it’s made when they have a bunch of different options to choose from, and sometimes people experience paralysis-by-analysis (they give up and don’t choose anything at all.). Some scientists refer to this as the “paradox of choice”—a lot of choices feels like something we want, but it ends up being bad for us.1
New research suggests that how supported we feel in our relationships affects how appealing we find having a lot of options/choices.
Online dating sites, all clamoring to give you access to thousands, or even millions, of potential new dates, clearly believe more fish make a better sea. But, is all this choice really a good thing?
A recent critical review of online dating research suggests maybe not. While dating sites deserve credit for increasing romantic opportunities, some of their new-fangled methods could actually be undermining your love life. Before your next foray into the cyber-scene, consider these four online dating tips.
As discussed in a previous post, some relationship scientists seriously doubt the effectiveness of the algorithms used by online dating sites to match people to potential partners. Even if these algorithms do not hold the key to everlasting love, online dating sites provide access to more dating partners than you can shake a stick at. If you are looking for love, having more options is better, right?
Not exactly. Researchers have demonstrated that although we like having more options when making a decision, we are ultimately less satisfied with our choice when we have a larger, as opposed to smaller, number of options.