Online Dating's Problem: Too Many Matches, Not Too Few

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2009 3:58 PM CDT
An Internet dating site.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Online dating sites are so packed with possible matches that they cause “cognitive overload” in seekers, leading to unconsidered choices, the MIT Technology Review reports. The lovelorn may say they want a wider variety of candidates, but they spend less time evaluating them, new research shows. “More search options lead to less selective processing by reducing users' cognitive resources, distracting them with irrelevant information,” the researchers say. That hampers the “ability to screen out inferior options.”

Applying more subtle screening to dating sites—expanding search parameters to include sense of humor, say, instead of just height, weight, and religion—could lead to better matches. The same careful approach could be applied to the Web at large, where the onslaught of information about products and services means more time clicking links and less time thinking about them. But don't take the analogy too far, one professor says. Daters should not search for mates “as though they were shoes.”