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“This is one of the biggest problems that humans face and one of the first times in human history there was some innovation,” says Michael Norton, a psychologist at Harvard Business School.Finding the right partner, whether for life or for Saturday night, is so important to so many people that you would think we might have cracked it by now.A simple survey that Norton conducted with two other behavioural scientists, Jeana Frost and Dan Ariely, revealed that people were unhappy with their online dating experience in three obvious ways.The first was that the “online” bit of the dating was about as much fun as booking a dentist’s appointment.The second was that it took for ever — the typical survey respondent spent 12 hours a week browsing through profiles and sending and receiving messages, yielding less than two hours of offline interaction.
This was the third problem: people tended to have high expectations before the dates they had arranged online but felt disenchanted afterwards.To adapt a Woody Allen joke: not only are the dates terrible but there are so few of them.Given that online dating tends to be tedious, time-consuming and fruitless, it is no surprise that we seem hungry for a better way.Most approaches to online dating have tried to exploit one of the two obvious advantages of computers: speed and data-processing power. ) That is, of course, fine for a one-night stand but less promising for a more committed relationship.
By assembling a vast array of date-worthy people in a searchable format, online dating seems like it should be a huge improvement on the old-fashioned methods of meeting people at work, through friends, or in bars and nightclubs.
But it’s not clear that the innovation of online dating is helping very much.