Tong, S., Hancock, J.T. & Slatcher, R. (2016). Online Dating System Design and Relational Decision-Making: Choice, Algorithms, and Control. Personal Relationships, 23: 645–662.
One of the most popular ways to initiate romantic relationships today is through online dating. Typical dating systems follow one of three formats, see-and-screen (e.g., Match.com), algorithm (e.g., eHarmony.com), and blended (e.g., OkCupid.com), which differ in the amount of individual control and algorithmic involvement they offer users. Do different features affect daters’ decisions and expectations regarding relational development with selected partners? Study 1 indicated that although daters appreciated the personal control over mate selection afforded by see-and-screen systems, they also enjoyed using algorithmic systems. Study 2 found that blended systems provided “the best of both worlds” by offering dual benefits of control and algorithmic validation during mate selection. Findings shed light on self-determination theory, decision making, and relationship formation more broadly.