Internet dating and the science of fire starting

The New Yorker has a fantastic article about the psychology of online dating.

The piece explores how the big names of internet matchmaking attempt to strike up sparks between you and millions of other people and how they play off what attracts people in face-to-face encounters.

Psychology, maths and the economics of truth are used to bring people together, with each dating site having a different theory about how attraction works

It is tempting to think of online dating as a sophisticated way to address the ancient and fundamental problem of sorting humans into pairs, except that the problem isn’t very old. Civilization, in its various guises, had it pretty much worked out. Society—family, tribe, caste, church, village, probate court—established and enforced its connubial protocols for the presumed good of everyone, except maybe for the couples themselves. The criteria for compatibility had little to do with mutual affection or a shared enthusiasm for spicy food and Fleetwood Mac. Happiness, self-fulfillment, “me time,” a woman’s needs: these didn’t rate. As for romantic love, it was an almost mutually exclusive category of human experience. As much as it may have evolved, in the human animal, as a motivation system for mate-finding, it was rarely given great consideration in the final reckoning of conjugal choice.

The twentieth century reduced it all to smithereens. The Pill, women in the workforce, widespread deferment of marriage, rising divorce rates, gay rights—these set off a prolonged but erratic improvisation on a replacement. In a fractured and bewildered landscape of fern bars, ladies’ nights, Plato’s Retreat, “The Bachelor,” sexting, and the concept of the “cougar,” the Internet promised reconnection, profusion, and processing power.

Unsurprisingly, many dating sites now employ psychologists to optimise their hook up algorithms and the article explores the thinking and the practice behind the process.

A great read.
 

Link to excellent New Yorker article on internet dating.

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