Thursday, March 22, 2007

E-Harmony improves chances to find love


That's it. According to, this single click could lead users on the primrose path to their perfect e-romance. Whether the perfect match is prince charming or a prostitute with a heart of gold is up to the user.

Launched in 2000, claims to have matched thousands of people who have remained in committed relationships, some even leading to marriage. The first step is the personality profile, a thorough survey polling users on their values, interests and lifestyles.

But unlike its competitors, eHarmony has started its own research lab to try to explain the phenomena of their compatibility test. Are their users truly desperate un-dateables holed up in their apartments or regular people who simply can't find the time to go out? Questions like these and also the reality of how compatible an Internet match service can be are to be extensively researched and studied by these real live "love doctors."

Lance Jones, instructor of psychology as well as the University's Human Sexuality class, is not as convinced by these online dating services because of the limited research within the field.

"The Information Age has changed the face of dating, almost as soon as you get the idea for research, more technology develops," he said. "The problem is that it's just not a whole lot of data. I have some concerns on how they measure attitude/value similarity because values and proximity are the two variables that can predict compatibility," he said.

Jones also spoke about how difficult it can be for graduate students to find potential relationships due to their heavy course load and confessed that many graduate students in the department have started an Internet dating profile. Some of the students participate out of simple curiosity while others may be in it for the long haul.

One graduate student in Jones' department is proof that there is some merit in these online dating services, admitting that she met her long term boyfriend because of her Internet profile. While wanting to remain anonymous, she was surprised about the amount of questions dealing with personal religious beliefs.

With questions asking about spirituality and organized religion Jones says that cultural differences are just as important when working with hit-or-miss odds.

"Sometimes a couple can work if they have different views just because of their similarities (in other areas), but sometimes even the cultural identities aren't there. In theory, it should be able to help and has potential," he said.

As personality tests become more involved and Internet profiles more detailed, the lab technicians will have their work cut out for them with the introduction of their new research facility.

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