Personality Matching on Online Dating Websites

Personality Matching on Online Dating Websites

Colloquial wisdom suggests that when it comes to mating “birds of a feather flock together”; however, common wisdom also suggests that “opposites attract.” Which is it? Are people more likely to select romantic partners who are similar to them, or are more likely to select partners who are different, or complementary, personality traits?

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Although many people like to think that their matches “are made in heaven,” the harsh reality of meeting someone who is sufficiently compatible for a long-term relationship is far more complex. In some cases, opposites do in fact attract while in others, people with complementary personality traits may be more suited to each others. The key is what type of differences and similarities are involved. For instance, a nonsmoker may completely rule out a potential mate who smokes (or does drugs or drinks), and people of one faith may be disinclined to seek out a potential mate of another faith (Fox, 2009) just as some people of one race will not consider a potential mate from another race (Tsunokai, Kposowa & Adams, 2009). When the chemistry is right, though, even these major differences may be overcome by the power of love.


Provide a brief overview of scientific research on online dating websites. Be sure to address each of the following questions:


Are online dating profiles accurate? Or do people try to self-enhance? Just as many people seek to exaggerate their qualifications on resumes, it is reasonable to assume that many would-be suitors try to enhance their dating profiles on the personality tests that are used by online dating services such as eHarmony’s so-called “29 Dimensions of Compatibility” which are grouped into four primary categories: (a) “Character and Constitution” (e.g., intellect and industry); (b) “Emotional Makeup and Skills” (e.g., communication and kindness); (c) “Personality” (e.g., sense of humor and energy); and (d) “Family and Values” (e.g., spirituality and feelings about children) (McDermott, 2005).


What is the relationship between self-presentation (trying to impress) and online dating? In reality, many people who tend to exaggerate their qualifications in these categories may truthfully believe they are providing accurate information on these questionnaires. After all, everyone would like to think they are “special” and this is likely reflected in the answers to the personality tests used by online match-making services. In some cases, people may feel they are placing themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they do not exaggerate their attributes. In sum, it is difficult to be objective when describing oneself, particularly when the objective is to present the best possible face to potential mates.


Based on your response to #1 above, do you think websites like and eHarmony are more or less likely to lead to positive relationship outcomes. Why or why not? Include research findings and citations to justify your answer, when appropriate.

It is axiomatic that nothing succeeds like success, and the continuing success of eHarmony and others suggests that this service is satisfying a real demand in the digital age where more and more people are seeking long-term relationships online (Dheeriya, 2009). Although the personality profiles developed by eHarmony and may be initially exaggerated, Gackenbach (2007) suggests that these methods do in fact provide a viable foundation for establishing a lasting relationship.


Which personality traits do you think are associated with trying to find a mate online (as compared to using traditional method?) What personality factors lead people to search online for mates?

The Millennial Generation is accustomed to using online resources in every aspect of their lives, from recreation, work, shopping and as an information source. It is little wonder that these individuals would be predisposed to using online resources for finding a life partner. With respect to the personality traits that compel people to use online resources, these are likely as varied as the number of people who are involved, but may relate to factors such as the anonymity provided (which would suggest shyness or timidity) as well as the efficiency of the search effort (which would suggest a pragmatic personality).


Besides the “big five” what other personality variables might be important to match on?

Identify them and explain why they are important in the context of online dating? Besides the so-called “big five” (conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, extraversion, and neuroticism), other personality variables that appear to be salient in creating suitable matches include a sense of humor, honesty, and a good work ethic.


Dheeriya, P.L. (2009). A conceptual framework for describing online entrepreneurship. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 22(3), 275-277.

Fox, D. (2009). Racial classification in assisted reproduction. Yale Law Journal, 118(8), 1844-

Gackenbach, J. (2007). Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal implications. Boston: Elsevier/Academic Press.

McDermott, I.E. (2005). Finding love on the Web. Searcher, 13(2), 23-25.

Tsunokai, G.T., Kposowa, A.J. & Adams, M.A. Racial preferences in Internet dating: A

comparison of four birth cohorts. The Western Journal of Black Studies, 33(1), 1-3.

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