Technology

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Looking for the Perfect Love Algorithm

February 09, 2008 12:05 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff

A booming Internet dating industry sends academics on a quest for the best matchmaking algorithm. But complaints about online dating agencies are on the rise.

30-Second Summary

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The questionnaires used by online dating companies contain vast quantities of data that matchmakers use to pair potential partners.

But these matches do not just happen, most companies use their own preferred algorithms to determine which shared traits indicate a potential for romantic chemistry.

These algorithms are based on psychological and anthropological research. In fact, the heads of the two largest online dating companies—eHarmony and Chemistry.com—are a clinical psychologist and an anthropologist, respectively.

But their methodologies have yet to be published for peer review. So despite their academic backing, none of these companies can claim to have the scientific key to finding love.

Nonetheless, online dating is a multimillion-dollar business. The big U.S. companies are doing so well that they may expand to India and China, where arranged marriages are part of the culture and there are millions of young, single people.

However, a growing number of U.S. customers are filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau. In 2006, complaints rose by nearly 75 percent. Poor customer service and bad matches are among the top criticisms.

The rivalry among the companies is also heated. Last year Chemistry.com ran ads about eHarmony rejecting potential clients, specifically homosexuals. Those attacks led to a huge increase in the number of gay and lesbian registrants at Chemistry.com.

Headline Links: The ‘science’ of online dating

Background: Internet matchmakers wage ad wars

Key Players: The heads of eHarmony and Chemistry.com

Clinical psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren
Anthropologist Helen Fisher

Reactions: ‘Consumers Looking for Love Need to be on the Lookout’

Related Topics: Online dating in China and India and Internet dating safety

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