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XXX10.1177/1529100612436522Finkel et al.Online Dating

Research Article

Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the
Perspective of Psychological Science

Psychological Science in the
Public Interest
13(1) 3–66
© The Author(s) 2012
Reprints and permission: DOI: 10.1177/1529100612436522 Eli J. Finkel1, Paul W. Eastwick2, Benjamin R. Karney3, Harry T. Reis4, and Susan Sprecher5

Northwestern University; 2Texas A&M University; 3University of California, Los Angeles;
University of Rochester; and 5Illinois State University


Online dating sites frequently claim that they have fundamentally altered the dating landscape for the better. This article employs psychological science to examine (a) whether online dating is fundamentally different from conventional offline dating and (b) whether online dating promotes better romantic outcomes than conventional offline dating. The answer to the first question (uniqueness) is yes, and the answer to the second question (superiority) is yes and no.
To understand how online dating fundamentally differs from conventional offline dating and the circumstances under which online dating promotes better romantic outcomes than conventional offline dating, we consider the three major services online dating sites offer: access, communication, and matching. Access refers to users’ exposure to and opportunity to evaluate potential romantic partners they are otherwise unlikely to encounter. Communication refers to users’ opportunity to use various forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to interact with specific potential partners through the dating site before meeting face-to-face.
Matching refers to a site’s use of a mathematical algorithm to select potential partners for users.
Regarding the uniqueness question,...

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