Thu, Jul 23, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Online dating a double-edged sword, study shows

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although the Internet has become a platform for users to develop intimate relationships, recent research shows that users of dating Web sites do not necessarily benefit when they are presented with a wide selection of possible dates.

A study by Chiou Wen-bin (邱文彬), a professor of education at National Sun Yat-sen University, and Wu Pai-lu (吳百祿), a professor of education at Cheng Shiu University, of 128 Taiwanese teenagers and adults who had experience with online dating showed that the participants tended to make less careful choices if they received more search results on dating Web sites.

Chiou and Wu looked at the amount of attention users devoted to what they termed “better alternatives” and “worse alternatives” among search results.

They said that net users searching for romantic partners on the Internet might be distracted by “irrelevant information” during the search and end up making worse choices. This could happen if they were overwhelmed by the number of options before them.

They described the phenomenon as a “double-edged sword,” meaning that even though the users preferred to have more choices during their search for romantic relationships online, they might not be able to assess every aspect of the candidates because they would experience “cognitive overload.”Although the Internet has become a platform for users to develop intimate relationships, recent research shows that users of dating Web sites do not necessarily benefit when they are presented with a wide selection of possible dates.

A study by Chiou Wen-bin (邱文彬), a professor of education at National Sun Yat-sen University, and Wu Pai-lu (吳百祿), a professor of education at Cheng Shiu University, of 128 Taiwanese teenagers and adults who had experience with online dating showed that the participants tended to make less careful choices if they received more search results on dating Web sites.

Chiou and Wu looked at the amount of attention users devoted to what they termed “better alternatives” and “worse alternatives” among search results.

They said that net users searching for romantic partners on the Internet might be distracted by “irrelevant information” during the search and end up making worse choices. This could happen if they were overwhelmed by the number of options before them.

They described the phenomenon as a “double-edged sword,” meaning that even though the users preferred to have more choices during their search for romantic relationships online, they might not be able to assess every aspect of the candidates because they would experience “cognitive overload.”

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