Despite being a word (and act) that’s tricky to time, perhaps love can be deciphered by an algorithm. Increasingly, online dating sites are using the results from user surveys to try to do just that. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers who advises Chemistry.com, uses a questionnaire to identify people as Negotiators, Directors, Builders, or Explorers. Directors, for example, tend to match well with Negotiators.
And whether the sites are actually helping people find “the one,” their personality tests and post-date reviews are providing a treasure trove of data for social scientists. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford, raises methodological questions about the value of the data—for example, people who create profiles on data sites are not a random sample of the population.
Still, sampling aside, Rosenfeld points out the cultural implications of the rise of online dating, noting:
The Internet has increased the decline of family but also of friends and coworkers and school, because [it’s] an efficient marketplace, especially if you are looking for something particular.
If people continue to turn to the online marketplace, larger sample sizes and more feedback may make matchmaking websites more efficient and give researchers more insights into the science of attraction (including people’s attraction to such sites).