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In addition, when we read vague information about someone, we mentally fill in the blanks with specific details that may be incorrect (Norton & Frost, 2007).
For example, when you read in a man’s profile that he’s a movie buff, you might think that's something you have in common, but when you get to talking about movies on your date you realize that you’re a foreign film aficionado, while he’s obsessed with horror flicks.
But this can also lead you to pass up on potential dates because with all those options, you can't help but think, "There must be someone better out there." Online dating sites can thus foster an attitude in which potential mates are objectified like products on a store shelf, rather than people (Finkel et al., 2012). Online profiles are missing vital information you can only glean in person (Finkel et al., 2012), so it can be difficult to know if you’re really compatible with someone based solely on what they have shared on a dating site.
Research shows that people spend their time on dating sites searching criteria such as income and education, and physical attributes like height and body type, when what they need is information about the actual experience of interacting with and getting to know the person on the other end of the profile (Frost et al., 2008).
A large body of literature on decision-making shows that, in general, when we have choice (Schwartz, 2004).Having no choices can lead to misery, but too many options can overwhelm and lead you to worry that you’ve chosen wrong.You can feel confident in your decision about which car to buy when there are only three under consideration, but if there are hundreds, you’ll constantly second-guess yourself and wonder if you could have done better.A recent survey of 19,000 people who married between 20 found that 35 percent of these new couples met online, with about half of those meeting through an online dating site (Cacioppo et al., 2013).
How can these sites help you find romance, and what pitfalls should you be aware of?There are dating sites devoted to particular religious groups, like Christian Mingle or JDate, for example, as well as sites that cater to gay and lesbian daters. This removes a lot of the ambiguity that you face when you meet an interesting person at a work event or a party. Because of the ease and relative anonymity of online dating sites, we may take more risk reaching out to people we would not approach in person.