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Mobile Dating With iPhone Apps Beats Online Dating

Tim Boyer's picture

According to relationship research, mobile dating with iPhone apps is a more successful way for couples to couple than through traditional online dating services. However, this does not mean that - like love for some - online dating is dead. Rather, that your online dating techniques can be augmented scientifically to find the perfect match for you.

Matchmaking precedes online dating and iPhone app mobile dating by at least hundreds of years and has Biblical precedent. Traditionally, matchmaking was a role reserved for priests, rabbis, or in some communities—an old woman referred to a “Yenta” meaning “a gossip” in Yiddish. The value in such matchmakers is that parents could rely on the advice of people “in the know” of potential mates who would make good matchmaking choices regarding compatibility both socially and economically.

However, modern times have largely replaced the personal touch of a human matchmaker with a more removed electronic digital touch via matchmaker services provided through video and computing algorithms.

The need for a change in matchmaking is a reflection of changing values, technology and dissatisfaction with previous and current methods for finding a compatible mate. In addition, time appears to be an important factor as well, as overly-busy singles desire to streamline the dating/mating process to fit family-making into their busy schedules.

As such, computers have been used in matchmaking for the past 60 years both commercially and in academia. However, it was not until the past 15 years that the growth of electronic matchmaking his truly blossomed with online services such as Match.com and eHarmony.

Online services typically operate by offering profiles of potential mates that include images and characteristics that one can choose from not unlike choosing from a menu that offers a smorgasbord of potential like-minded mates. Some online services promise a compatibility matching via a soul-less mathematical algorithm that will “scientifically” help you find your one true soul mate.

In a recent article to be published in a future issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest (a journal of the Association for Psychological Science), researchers have determined that advertised matchmaking algorithms and profile shopping are ineffective methods for finding a compatible mate. They especially find that the use of algorithms as advertised is questionable if not fraudulent.

According to the study’s lead author Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, “…there is no compelling evidence that any of these algorithms work," he said. “Limiting the number of potential partners is only helpful if the algorithmic-selection process favors compatible partners over incompatible ones, which it fails to do. Even if the algorithms are cutting 2,000 potential partners down to five, if that process is random, is it really any better than strolling into the neighborhood bar?”

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However, what Finkel does find as a better option for matchmaking is the use of what is called the 3rd generation of online dating—mobile dating through the use of iPhone apps. Mobile dating is a relatively new concept resulting from smart phone technology that brings together potential partners face-to-face quickly to see if that initial “spark” of love ignites when a new couple first meets.

The study points out that the power of apps and global positioning systems can function together by informing users of potential partners in the immediate vicinity such as at a train station or a museum for a quick get together if their profiles appear promising. From a biological perspective, it’s not unlike an animal catching a scent in the wind when a receptive mate is nearby.

"GPS features on smartphone apps can tell you who is nearby and willing to be browsed," Finkel said. "With a little bit of basic information, potential daters can get together right away for a quick face-to-face meet-up."

The value to mobile dating is that it gets people face-to-face both quickly and effectively, which in effect is streamlining the dating process toward maximal efficiency.

"You have a little bit of basic information," Finkel says. "Is this person below threshold or above threshold for a five-minute meet-up—five minutes from now? There’s no better way to figure out whether you’re compatible with somebody than talking to them over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer."

However, this does not mean that older online dating services are obsolete. The authors of the study conclude that online dating is still superior to offline methods primarily because “online dating offers access to potential partners whom people would be unlikely to meet through other avenues—and this access yields new romantic possibilities” that otherwise would have been missed.

Furthermore, the authors believe that online dating (and mobile dating using iPhone apps and other technologies such as the use of avatars) provides substantial opportunities for improving the way online dating is practiced. Particularly if online dating services form a collaboration with scholars and relationship scientists who understand the science and intricacies of romantic relationships.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis from the Perspective of Psychological Science” Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Eli J. Finkel, Paul W. Eastwick, Benjamin R. Karney, Harry T. Reis, and Susan Sprecher.