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Online dating research

We have gathered a list of top notch online dating articles as well as studies published by well-known universities and scientists on this page.

Some of the articles and studies are based on UK data/users and some on data from around the globe.

We have classified the articles in different categories according to their topic, i.e. research on use of dating sites, psychology research, impact on relationships...

If you come across any other online dating article or study not listed here, please let us know so we can add them to our list.

[email protected]

Research: online dating articles & studies about the use of dating sites

What Big Data Says About Finding Online Love

Datascience@berkeley has put together an amazing infographic which "explores the past, present, and future of online dating".

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Brought to you by datascience@berkeley: Master of Information and Data Science



Global Dating Insights Industry Report 2013/14

GlobalDatingInsights.com provides news, features, analysis, opinion and information regarding the online dating industry. In this report you will find interviews with the top executives from the largest online dating operators, a look at start-ups and discussions on niche markets.


Source: The online dating industry report (2013/2014)


The economics of online dating

Paul Oyer, an economist at Standford University and author of the new book Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I learned from Online Dating, talks about the economics of online dating in a podcast with Harvard Business Review. He has learned that, on a purely economical terms, one will have a better chance of meeting their true soul mate by searching through online dating profiles than going on several dates. In the podcast, he says that “..going out and meeting people is costly and difficult. Whereas, searching through online profiles can be fairly efficient.”

Source: https://blogs.hbr.org/2013/12/the-economics-of-online-dating/


The logic of online lovin’: Does online dating work? - Infographic

MBAPrograms.org published this interesting infographic about the science & art of finding love online, and tries to answer the question: does online dating really make it easier to meet that one-and-only soulmate?

Click on the image to view the full infographic (and then again on the graphic to enlarge).


Oxfort University study on online dating:
A third of us have used dating websites

This Oxford University study suggests that almost one third of the people who use the internet visited online dating sites. An international survey of 24,000 men and women who are online found that just 6% went to dating websites in 1997 but by 2009, 30% of the sample had tried them with 15% finding their current partner that way.

Source: www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/111402_1.html


Research into online dating in UK

This online dating research study shows some of the conclusions from Dr Jeff Gavin, a psychology lecturer at the University of Bath, who has researched the social science behind dating sites.

This dating research was Gavin’s attemp to find out more about how people develop relationships online. In order to do so he compared the experiences of members of UK and Japanese online dating sites.

Source: www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/apr/26/online-dating-research


Study: online dating in the US

Demand for online dating services is on the rise, specially niche dating networks, and a new wave of mobile applications will bring online dating to even more people. This is an in-depth industry market research presented in a logical and consistent format by IbisWorld.

Source: www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=1723


Online dating study:
User experiences of an online dating community

This research study aims to examine user’s experience of the online dating community, Plenty of Fish (POF). Online dating communities are a growing industry tailored specifically to users who are looking for a romantic partner, connection, or encounter.

Source: www.studentpulse.com/articles/323/online-dating-study-user-experiences-of-an-online-dating-community


Recommender System for Online Dating Service

This paper focus on an area with a surprising lack of published work: matchmaking as a typical application for recommender systems. The researchers of this study described a recommender system they implemented and performed a quantitative comparison of two collaborative filtering (CF) and two global algorithms. Results showed that collaborative filtering recommenders significantly outperform global algorithms used by dating sites. Even users prefered CF based recommendations to global popularity recommendations. The study concluded that recommender systems show a great potential for online dating where they could improve the value of the service to users and improve monetization of the service.

Source: arxiv.org/abs/cs/0703042


Relevance and ranking in online dating systems

This is the first in-depth study of information retrieval approaches applied to match-making systems such as a dating service. The authors of this paper propose a machine learned ranking function that makes use of features extracted from the uniquely rich user profiles that consist of both structured and unstructured attributes. The benefits of the proposed methodology with respect to traditional matchmaking baseline systems are shown by an extensive evaluation carried out using data gathered from a real online dating service. This analysis also provides deep insights into the aspects of matchmaking that are important for presenting highly relevant matches.

Source: dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1835463


People are experience goods: Improving online dating with virtual dates

This research was divided in 3 parts:

Study 1: this part of the study demonstrates that singles spend too much time searching for options online for too little payoff in offline dates.

Study 2: they came to the conclusion that users desire information about experiential attributes (sense of humor or rapport), but online dating sites contain primarily searchable attributes, such as income, religion, background...

Study 3: researchers introduced and tested the Virtual Date, offering potential dating partners the opportunity to acquire experiential information by exploring a virtual environment similar to real first dates (such as going to a museum). This online intervention led to greater liking after offline meetings.

Source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dir.20106/abstract


Sex differences among partner preferences: Are the sexes really very similar?

This paper is part of a doctoral thesis that addressed the question as to what type of individual we prefer in a romantic partner. To accomplish that the author presented two groups of participants a variety of questionnaires where they had to indicate their preferences for a partner.

The first group of single students demonstrated a prevailing desire for a kind, considerate, and honest partner with a keen sense of humor. Dating agency members (second group) completed similar questionnaires examining partner preferences. Again, here preferences were similar across the sexes, although men preferred a submissive and introverted woman and stressed the importance of physical appearance in a mate.

Source: www.springerlink.com/content/gl56rqr008284753/


Cupid on Trial: A 4-month Online Dating Experiment Using 10 Fictional Singletons

Is online dating a different experience for men than it is for women?

To find out, John Millward conducted a 4-month experiment in the US and UK using 10 dummy dating profiles.
This experiment roughly demonstrates the differences in the volume of messages women receive, especially attractive women, compared to men. However, it was by no means scientific. For it to have been, it would have needed much more than 10 profiles.

Source: jonmillward.com/blog/attraction-dating/cupid-on-trial-a-4-month-online-dating-experiment/


Online dating research from a psychological point of view


Online dating: 10 psychological insights

This online dating article is based on a psychological research, revealing who uses online dating and why, which strategies work, and uncovers the truth about lying online. Here you will find 10 favourite psychological insights on internet dating backed up by research and studies.

Source: www.spring.org.uk/2010/09/online-dating-10-psychological-insights.php


Managing impressions online:
Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment

The University of Indiana presents this study, which investigates self-presentation strategies among online dating participants, exploring how participants manage their own online presentation in order to find a romantic partner. 34 individuals active on a large online dating site participated in phone interviews about their online dating experiences and perceptions. Analysis suggests that participants attended to small cues online, mediated the tension between impression management pressures and the desire to present an authentic sense of self through tactics such as creating a profile that reflected their "ideal self," and attempted to establish the veracity of their identity claims.

Source: jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue2/ellison.html


Research: the truth about lying in online dating profiles

Researchers at the Cornell and Michigan universities present this study about lying in online dating profiles. Unlike previous studies that relied solely on self-report data, this study establishes ground truth for 80 online daters’ height, weight and age, and compares ground truth data to the information provided in online dating profiles. The results suggest that deception is indeed frequently observed, but that the magnitude of the deceptions is usually small.

Source: www.msu.edu/~nellison/hancock_et_al_2007.pdf


Who Visits Online Dating Sites? Exploring Some Characteristics of Online Daters

The goal of this study was to investigate the demographic predictors of online dating and the validity of two opposite hypotheses that explain users' tendency to use the Internet for online dating: the social compensation hypothesis and the rich-get-richer hypothesis. Researchers found that online dating was not related to income and educational level. Supporting the rich-get-richer hypothesis, people low in dating anxiety were more active online daters than people high in dating anxiety.

Source: online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cpb.2007.9941?2


What Makes You Click? Mate Preferences and Matching Outcomes in Online Dating

This study pretended to investigate the role played by mate preferences in determining match outcomes and sorting patterns. The preference estimates revealed by this research complement previous studies that were based on survey methods. An interesting point is that it provides evidence on mate preferences that people might not truthfully reveal in a survey, in particular regarding race preferences. Furthermore, they also found that they could predict sorting patterns in actual marriages if they excluded the unobservable utility component in their preference specification when simulating match outcomes.

Source: papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=895442


Assessing attractiveness in online dating profiles

In this study researchers examined how Internet users perceived attractiveness in online dating profiles, which provide their first exposure to a potential partner. Participants were asked to rate whole profiles and profile components on qualities such as how attractive, extraverted, or genuine and trustworthy they appeared. Results showed that the attractiveness and other qualities of the photograph were the strongest predictors of whole profile attractiveness, but the free-text section also played an important role in predicting overall attractiveness. The fixed-choice elements of a profile were unrelated to attractiveness.

Source: dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1357181


Putting Your Best Face Forward: The Accuracy of Online Dating Photographs

The research behind this study tries to examine the accuracy of 54 online dating photos posted by daters. The paper concluded that while online daters rated their photos as relatively accurate, independent judges rated approximately one third of the photos as not accurate. Interesting is that female photographs were judged as less accurate than male ones, and were more likely to be older, to be retouched and contain inconsistencies, including changes in hair style and skin quality. The study extended the theoretical concept of selective self-presentation to online photographs, and discusses issues of self-deception and social desirability bias.

Source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01420.x/abstract;jsessionid=1E16DE129B43DD153D58EA5940DD53F7.d03t04


Revealing the ‘real’ me, searching for the ‘actual’ you:
Presentations of self on an internet dating site

This paper is a research about the presentation of self on internet dating sites. For this purpose 30 men and 30 women were interviewed about their online dating experiences, for instance, how they created their profiles and how they viewed other singles’ profiles. They investigated which types of presentations of self led to more successful offline romantic relationships as well as gender differences.

Source: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563207001215


Attractiveness and Height:
The Role of Stature in Dating Preference, Frequency of Dating, and Perceptions of Attractiveness

This research study investigated the relationship between height and attractiveness using self-reports of dating behavior and subjects' ratings of photographs representing males and females of different heights. Conclusions:

  • Shorter females were preferred more as dates, were dated more frequently, and were rated as more attractive than taller females regardless of the height of the male subjects.
  • For males, the relationship between height and attractiveness was less clear. Females expressed a preference for dating males taller than themselves and reported dating taller males more frequently but did not rate their tall male dates as more attractive.
  • No relationship was found between the height of the male subjects and their self-reported dating frequency.
  • Females rated a photographed male as more attractive when he was depicted as tall than when he was depicted as short relative to an adjacent female.


Source: psp.sagepub.com/content/15/4/617.short


Research about the impact of the internet on relationships


Me, my spouse and the internet:

Meeting, dating and marriage in the digital age

This is a dating study which focuses on the significance and impact of the Internet on relationships (how we meet people but also who we meet). This dating project uses survey data from Australian and UK couples.

Source: www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/?id=47


Online dating report: The science of online dating

This scientific report deepens into the question, can the application of science to unravel the biological basis of love complement the traditional, romantic ideal of finding a soul mate?

Source: www.nature.com/embor/journal/v11/n1/full/embor2009264.html


Partner preferences across the life span:
Online dating by older adults

Older adults are usually stereotyped as withdrawn or asexual, which fails to recognize that romantic relationships later in life are increasingly common. The authors of this study analyzed 600 Internet personal ads from 4 age groups: 20–34, 40–54, 60–74, and 75+ years. Some of the conclusions:
- Predictions from evolutionary theory held true later in life, when reproduction is no longer a concern.
- Across the life span, men seek physical attractiveness and offer status-related information more than women.
- Women are more selective than men and seek status more than men.
- With age, men desire women increasingly younger than themselves, whereas women seek older men until ages 75 and over, when they prefer men younger than themselves.

Source: psycnet.apa.org/journals/pag/24/2/513/


Crossing the Line Online: Racial Preference of Internet Daters

This paper shows how the use of the Internet provides unique insights on dating preferences and illustrates the continued importance of race in partner selection. That is, the Internet has broadly transformed the way singles date and how families are formed.

Source: www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01494920903224335


An examination of the online romance scam

This study was carried out between 2010 and 2011 by Monica Whitty of University of Leicester and Tom Buchanan University of Westminster and founded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

The aims of the study were to identify psychological characteristics of individuals which raise their risk of becoming victims, examine the persuasive techniques employed to scam victims of the online dating romance scam and examine the psychological consequences of being a victim of the online dating scam.

Source: www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/RES-000-22-4022/read


Research: articles about success and failure in online dating


Study: internet dating much more successful than thought

A research shows that Internet dating is proving a much more successful way to find long-term romance and friendship for thousands of people than was previously thought.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050218125144.htm


Helping Singles Enter Better Marriages Using Predictive Models of Marital Success

Current studies suggest that insufficient efforts have been made to create models that predict relationship quality within married people that can be applied to singles. This paper compares marital satisfaction and adjustment of 273 recently married couples who were introduced as singles by an online dating site using predictive models based on an earlier pilot study, and 1,101 recently married couples recruited on-line. Researches concluded that there are key elements of compatibility which can be successfully used to create more successful marriages by influencing the decision-making processes of singles.

Source: eharmony-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/eHarmony-APS-handout.pdf



Article: online dating: why it fails

This article, based on data and research done by the Boston University and the MIT on online dating sites, suggests that inflated expectations in online dating can lead to major disappointments when daters meet in person.

Source: www.livescience.com/4348-online-dating-fails.html


Do you know any other online dating article or study not listed here?
Please let us know so we can add them to our list: [email protected]