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PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ONLINE DATING

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Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables people to find and introduce themselves to potential connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships. There are also different dating sites where people meet apart from meeting on common traditional social media sites such as (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the likes).

Some online dating sites are mainly for dating purposes, such as (Friendite, Sexy Naija, Naijaplanet, MeetNigerians and Tinder) these are some of the dating site developed by Nigerians and mostly used, Tinder is a site developed in UK but also commonly used among Nigerian. 

An online dating service is a company that provides specific mechanisms (generally websites or software applications) for online dating through the use of Internet-connected personal computers or mobile devices. Such companies offer a wide variety of unmoderated matchmaking services, most of which are profile-based. 

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In 2008, a variation of the online dating model emerged in the form of introduction sites, where members have to search and contact other members, who introduce them to other members whom they deem compatible. Introduction sites (online dating servicers) differ from the traditional online dating model, and attracted many users and significant investor interest.

Online dating services allow users to become “members” by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance. Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile. Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.

Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards. Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.

A great diversity of online dating services currently exists. Some have a broad membership base of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships. Other sites target highly specific demographics based on features like shared interests, location, religion, sexual orientation or relationship type.

Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams. Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue. Others utilize the freemium revenue model, offering free registration and use, with optional, paid, premium services. Still others rely solely on paid membership subscriptions.

Online dating Is common among the European, recently  when the use of internet has been generally known and used effectively by the African, this has widen the range in which African make use of internet on a daily basis for their day to day activities also the use of internet has make it easy for them to communicate easily for different purpose such as business, interview, marketing and also dating. 

 In 2012, social psychologists Benjamin Karney, Harry Reis, and others published an analysis of online dating in Psychological Science in the Public Interest that concluded that the matching algorithms of online dating services are only negligibly better at matching people than if they were matched at random.

In 2014, Kang Zhao at the University of Iowa constructed a new approach based on the algorithms used by Amazon and Netflix, based on recommendations rather than the autobiographical notes of match seekers. Users’ activities reflect their tastes and attractiveness, or the lack thereof, they reasoned.

This algorithm increases the chances of a response by 40%, the researchers found. E-commerce firms also employ this “collaborative filtering” technique. Nevertheless, it is still not known what the algorithm for finding the perfect match would be.

However, while collaborative filtering and recommender systems have been demonstrated to be more effective than matching systems based on similarity and complementarity, they have also been demonstrated to be highly skewed to the preferences of early users and against racial minorities such as African Americans and Hispanic Americans which led to the rise of niche dating sites for those groups.

In 2014, the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division criticized eHarmony’s claims of creating a greater number of marriages and more durable and satisfying marriages than alternative dating websites, and in 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority banned eHarmony advertisements in the United Kingdom after the company was unable to provide any evidence to verify its advertisements’ claims that its website’s matching algorithm was scientifically proven to give its users a greater chance of finding long-term intimate relationships.

Opinions and usage of online dating services also differ widely. A 2005 study of data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that individuals are more likely to use an online dating service if they use the Internet for a greater number of tasks, and less likely to use such a service if they are trusting of others.

It is possible that the mode of online dating resonates with some participants’ conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner. That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a “marketplace metaphor” to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store. Under this metaphor, members of a given service can both “shop” for potential relationship partners and “sell” themselves in hopes of finding a successful match.

Attitudes towards online dating improved visibly between 2005 and 2015, the Pew Research Center found. In particular, the number of people who thought that online dating was a good way to meet people rose from 44% in 2005 to 59% in 2015 whereas those who believed that people who used online dating services were desperate fell from 29% to 23% during the same period.

Although only a negligible number of people dated online in 2005, that rose to 11% in 2013 and then 15% in 2015. In particular, the number of American adults who had used an online dating site went from 9% in 2013 to 12% in 2015 while those who used an online dating software application on their mobile phones jumped from 3% to 9% during the same period. This increase was driven mainly by people aged 18 to 24, for whom usage almost tripled.

At the same time, usage among those between the ages of 55 and 64 doubled. People in their mid-30s to mid-50s all saw noticeable increases in usage, but people aged 25 to 34 saw no change. Nevertheless, only one in three had actually gone out on a date with someone they met online. About one in five, especially women, at 30%, compared to 16% for men, asked for help with their online profile.

Only five out of a hundred said they were married to or in a committed long-term relationship with someone they met online. For comparison, 88% of Americans who were with their current spouse or partner for no more than five years said they met their mates offline. 

Online daters may have more liberal social attitudes compared to the general population in the United States. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, people who had used online dating services had a higher opinion of such services than those who had not. 80% of the users said that online dating sites are a good way to meet potential partners, compared to 55% of non-users.

In addition, online daters felt that online dating is easier, more efficient than other methods (61%), and gives access to a larger pool of potential partners (62%), compared to 44% and 50% of non-users, respectively. Meanwhile, 60% of non-users thought that online dating was a more dangerous way of meeting people and 24% deemed people who dated online were desperate, compared to 45% and 16% of online daters, respectively.

Nevertheless, a similar number of online daters (31%) and non-users (32%) agreed that online dating kept people from settling down. In all, there was little difference among the sexes with regards to their opinions on online dating. Safety was, however, the exception, with 53% of women and only 38% of men expressing concern.

It is not clear that social networking websites and online dating services are leading to the formation of long-term intimate relationships more efficiently. In 2000, a majority of U.S. households had personal computers, and in 2001, a majority of U.S. households had internet access. In 1995, Match.com was created, followed by eHarmony in 2000, Myspace and Plenty of Fish in 2003, Facebook and OkCupid in 2004, Zoosk in 2007, and Tinder in 2012.

In 2011, the percentage of all U.S. adults who were married declined to a historic low at 51 percent, while from 2007 to 2017 the percentage of U.S. adults living without spouses or partners rose to 42 percent (including 61 percent of adults under the age of 35) because declines in marriage since 1960 (when 72 percent of U.S. adults were married) have not been offset by increases in cohabitation. In 2014, the percentage of U.S. adults above the age of 25 who had never married rose to a record one-fifth (with the rate of growth in the category accelerating since 2000).

Additionally, psychologists Douglas T. Kenrick, Sara E. Gutierres, Laurie L. Goldberg, Steven Neuberg, Kristin L. Zierk, and Jacquelyn M. Krones have demonstrated experimentally that following exposure to photographs or stories about desirable potential mates, human subjects decrease their ratings of commitment to their current partners, while social psychologist David Buss has estimated that approximately 30 percent of the men on Tinder are married, and a significant criticism of Facebook has been its effect on its users’ marriages.

Data from the Chinese online dating giant Zhenai.com reveals that while men are most interested in how a woman looks, women care more about a man’s income. Profession is also quite important. Chinese men favour women working as primary school teachers and nurses while Chinese women prefer men in the IT or finance industry.

Women in IT or finance are the least desired. Zhenai enables users to send each other digital “winks.” For a man, the more money he earns the more “winks” he receives. For a woman, her income does not matter until the 50,000-yuan mark (US$7,135), after which the number of “winks” falls slightly.

Men typically prefer women three years younger than they are whereas women look for men who are three years older on average. However, this changes if the man becomes exceptionally wealthy; the more money he makes the more likely he is to look for younger women.

Also, in China, the number of separations per a thousand couples doubled, from 1.46 in 2006 to about three in 2016, while the number of actual divorces continues to rise, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Demand for online dating services among divorcees keeps growing, especially in the large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. In addition, more and more people are expected to use online dating and services as China continues to urbanize in the late 2010s and 2020s 

In general, people in their 20s employ the “self-service dating service” while women in their late 20s and up tend to use the matchmaking service. This is because of the social pressure in China on “leftover women,” meaning those in their late 20s but still not married.

Women who prefer not to ask potentially embarrassing questions – such as whether both spouses will handle household finances, whether or not they will live with his parents, or how many children he wants to have, if any – will get a matchmaker to do it for them. Both sexes prefer matchmakers who are women.

According to University of Texas at Austin psychologist David Buss, “Apps like Tinder and OkCupid give people the impression that there are thousands or millions of potential mates out there.

One dimension of this is the impact it has on men’s psychology. When there is a perceived surplus of women, the whole mating system tends to shift towards short-term dating, and there is a feeling of disconnect when choosing future partners.

In addition, the cognitive process identified by psychologist Barry Schwartz as the “paradox of choice” (also referred to as “choice overload” or “fear of a better option”) was cited in an article published in The Atlantic that suggested that the appearance of an abundance of potential partners causes online daters to be less likely to choose a partner and be less satisfied with their choices of partners.

Sites with specific demographics have also become popular as a way to narrow the pool of potential matches. Successful niche sites pair people by race, sexual orientation or religion.

In March 2008, the top 5 overall sites held 7% less market share than they did one year ago while the top sites from the top five major niche dating categories made considerable gains.

Niche sites cater to people with special interests, such as sports fans, racing and automotive fans, medical or other professionals, people with political or religious preferences, people with medical conditions, or those living in rural farm communities and some dating services have been created specifically for those living with HIV and other venereal diseases in an effort to eliminate the need to lie about one’s health in order to find a partner. 

Although some sites offer free trials and/or profiles, most memberships can cost upwards of $60 per month. In 2008, online dating services in the United States generated $957 million in revenue.

Most free dating websites depend on advertising revenue, using tools such as Google AdSense and affiliate marketing. Since advertising revenues are modest compared to membership fees, this model requires numerous page views to achieve profitability. However, dating sites are also an ideal for creating advertising platforms because of the wealth of demographic data made available by users.

TRUST and SAFETY ISSUES

As online dating services are not required to routinely conduct background checks on members, it is possible for profile information to be misrepresented or falsified. 

Also, there may be users on dating services that have bad intentions (i.e. date rape, procurement) Some of the online dating service once introduced a real name policy, but that was later taken removed due to unpopularity with its users.

Only few of some online dating services are providing important safety information such as STD status of its users or other infectious diseases, but many do not. Some online dating services, which are popular in gay, bisexual trans and queer people are sometimes being used by people as a means of meeting these audiences for the purpose of gay bashing.

A form of misrepresentation is that members may lie about their height, weight, age, or marital status in an attempt to market or brand themselves in a particular way. Users may also carefully manipulate profiles as a form of impression management.

Online daters have raised concerns about ghosting, the practice of ceasing all communication with a person without explaining why. Ghosting appears to be becoming more common. Various explanations have been suggested, but social media is often blamed, as are dating apps and the relative anonymity and isolation in modern-day dating and hookup culture, which make it easier to behave poorly with few social repercussions. Online dating site members may try to balance an accurate representation with maintaining their image in a desirable way. One study found that nine out of ten participants had lied on at least one attribute, though lies were often slight; weight was the most lied about attribute, and age was the least lied about.

Furthermore, knowing a large amount of superficial information about a potential partner’s interests may lead to a false sense of security when meeting up with a new person. Gross misrepresentation may be less likely on matrimonial sites than on casual dating sites.

Some profiles may not even represent real humans but rather they may be fake “bait profiles” placed online by site owners to attract new paying members, or “spam profiles” created by advertisers to market services and products.

Opinions regarding the safety of online dating are mixed. Over 50% of research participants in a 2011 study did not view online dating as a dangerous activity, whereas 43% thought that online dating involved risk.

 We’ve heard a series of stories from people who found love online. On October 1st 2018 a  Nigerian man posted online a picture of him and his fiancé who he met through twitter three years back, set to get married. Also, there are many successful love stories of couples who met from either social media or online dating sites.  

There’re also testimonies of others who, though didn’t find love, met wrong people on dating sites which they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives such as (raping, scamming, Ritual, Molesting and the likes ).

However, we’re aware of the ills and downs that come with online dating. Therefore, it is advisable for one to apply caution when exchanging details, especially when it comes to visiting (him/her) for the first time.

REFERENCE:

Cupid on Trial: An OKcupid Online Dating Experiment jon millward. june19, 2012. Retrieved             november14,2015

Finkel, Eli J.; Eastwick, Paul W.; Karney, Benjamin R.; Reis, Harry T.; Sprecher, Susan (January 1, 2012). “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science”. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. SAGE Publishing. 13 (1): 3–66. doi:10.1177/1529100612436522. PMID 26173279. S2CID 5956951. Retrieved February 20, 2020.

Kenrick, Douglas T.; Neuberg, Steven L.; Zierk, Kristin L.; Krones, Jacquelyn M. (1994). “Evolution and Social Cognition: Contrast Effects as a Function of Sex, Dominance, and Physical Attractiveness”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. SAGE Publications. 20 (2): 210–217.

Wobcke, Wayne; Krzywicki, Alfred; Kim, Yang Sok; Cai, Xiongcai; Bain, Michael; Compton, Paul; Mahidadia, Ashesh (2015). “A Deployed People-to-People Recommender System in Online Dating”. AI Magazine. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. 36 (3): 5. doi:10.1609/aimag.v36i3.2599. Retrieved February 22, 2020.

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