Culture of online dating

Epstein explains in an online dating article for scientific american

A Scientific Dating Insight: Create Uncertainty,Support Science Journalism

 · In other words, scientific ways to up your online dating game. Some of these evidence-based tactics are obvious. Post an attractive profile pic. Be nice. Be funny. Others  · It’s these strengths that make the online dating industry’s weaknesses so disappointing. We’ll focus on two of the major weaknesses here: the overdependence on  · Epstein-Barr, it appears, has to combine with a genetic predisposition and possibly environmental factors, such as smoking and vitamin D deficiency, to increase risk.  · Epstein had a twisted take on genetics, hosting scientific conferences at which he expressed his desire to propagate his own genome by impregnating up to 20 women at a time at his New Mexico ranch  · The following summaries offer a quick introduction to some of the dating techniques researchers have been using to explore and reconstruct our planet's past, from billion ... read more

But to be sure Epstein-Barr was the culprit, Ascherio and his colleagues also measured antibodies against cytomegalovirus, another herpesvirus, and found no difference in levels in those who developed MS and those who did not.

Using a subset of 30 MS cases and 30 controls, they conducted a scan to detect antibody responses to most of the viruses that infect humans. Again, there was no difference. And to rule out the possibility that infection with Epstein-Barr preceded MS and not the other way around, the team also measured levels of a protein that is elevated in serum when neurons are injured or die and that therefore serves as a marker of the beginning of the pathological process before clinical symptoms appear.

The protein levels only rose after Epstein-Barr infection. One major question remains, however: How does the virus lead to the disease? They proposed several possibilities, such as inducing an autoimmune reaction.

Even if Epstein-Barr is the triggering event for MS, infection alone is insufficient for an actual diagnosis. Epstein-Barr, it appears, has to combine with a genetic predisposition and possibly environmental factors, such as smoking and vitamin D deficiency, to increase risk. Understanding the underlying mechanism will be important, the experts say. Historically, we have thought of MS as an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology. Antivirals that target EBV in infected B cells are one possibility.

One of the more exciting developments in MS in recent years was the success of B-cell-depletion therapies. In earlier work, Hauser and his colleagues found that the tissue damage in MS is primarily directed by B cells, which attack the myelin sheath protecting nerves.

The therapies now approved for use are monoclonal antibodies that kill those B cells, thereby easing inflammation. They are not a cure but are highly effective against MS relapses, reducing the development of new lesions measured by magnetic resonance imaging MRI of the brain by an astounding 99 percent.

They are also the only therapies shown to be effective against primary progressive MS, a previously untreatable form of the disease. Others are already working on vaccines that could prevent infection with Epstein-Barr. Moderna, which created an mRNA vaccine against COVID, launched a phase 1 trial of an mRNA vaccine for Epstein-Barr earlier this month. If these researchers succeed, such vaccines might dramatically reduce the incidence of mononucleosis and some cancers. And now it is conceivable that they could do the same for MS.

Lydia Denworth is a Brooklyn, N. She wrote about the neuroscience of stuttering in our August issue. She is co-author of Parent Nation. Already a subscriber? Sign in. Thanks for reading Scientific American. Create your free account or Sign in to continue. See Subscription Options.

Credit: Nick Higgins Recent Articles by Lydia Denworth U. Kids Are Falling behind Global Competition, but Brain Science Shows How to Catch Up People in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties A Single, Quick 'Mindset' Exercise Protects against Adolescent Stress. These and other questions have recently stimulated a small explosion of studies by social scientists.

The research is quickly revealing many surprising things about the new world of online dating, and some of the findings could be of great value to the millions who now look to the Internet to find love. Deception at Light Speed Experiences such as the one I had with Chris are multiplying by the thousands: some people online lie quite drastically about their age, marital or parental status, appearance, income or profession.

There are even Web sites, such as www. com , where people go to gripe, and a few lawsuits have been filed against online services by disgruntled suitors. Just how bad is deception in online dating? To put this issue in context, bear in mind that deception has always played at least a small role in courting.

One could even argue that deception is a necessary part of wooing a potential partner "Yes, I love sports! But cyberspace introduces a host of new possibilities. Survey research conducted by media researcher Jeana Frost of Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that about 20 percent of online daters admit to deception.

If you ask them how many other people are lying, however--an interviewing tactic that probably gets closer to the truth--that number jumps to 90 percent.

Because self-reported data can be unreliable, especially those from people asked to confess bad things about themselves, several researchers have sought objective ways to quantify online deception. For example, psychologist Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University and communications professor Nicole Ellison of Michigan State University bring people into a lab, where they measure height and weight and then check the numbers against those in their online profiles.

The preliminary data suggest that, on average, online profiles shave off about five pounds and add perhaps an inch in height. According to Ellison, although deception is "fairly common, the lies are of a very small magnitude.

In another attempt to collect objective data on deception, economists Guenter Hitsch and Ali Hortasu of the University of Chicago and psychologist Dan Ariely of M. compared the heights and weights of online daters with the same statistics obtained from national census data. Like Hancock and Ellison, they found that online height is exaggerated by only an inch or so for both men and women but that women appear to understate their weight more and more as they get older: by five pounds when they are in their 20s, 17 pounds in their 30s and 19 pounds in their 40s.

For men, the major areas of deception are educational level, income, height, age and marital status; at least 13 percent of online male suitors are thought to be married. For women, the major areas of deception are weight, physical appearance and age. All of the relevant research shows the importance of physical appearance for both sexes, and online daters interpret the absence of photos negatively. According to one recent survey, men's profiles without photos draw one fourth the response of those with photos, and women's profiles without photos draw only one sixth the response of those with photos.

If you are a Garrison Keillor fan, you have probably heard about the fictional Lake Wobegon on National Public Radio, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. Rationale for Falsehoods Why so much inaccuracy?

One theory, formulated in the late s and early s by Sara Kiesler and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, suggests that by its very nature "computer-mediated communication" is disinhibiting, causing people to say just about anything they feel like saying.

Because people typically use screen names rather than real ones, their ramblings are anonymous and hence not subject to social norms. There are also no physical cues or consequences--no visible communication gestures, raised eyebrows, grimaces, and so on--to keep people's behavior in check. As a result, online daters tend to construct what Ellison and her colleagues Jennifer Gibbs of Rutgers University and Rebecca Heino of Georgetown University call an "ideal self" rather than a real one.

A study published recently by Ellison and her colleagues even suggests that online daters often regret it when they do tell the truth, feeling that too much honesty, especially about negative attributes, creates a bad impression.

There are also straightforward, practical reasons for lying. Many women are quite open about listing much younger ages, often stating in the text of their profiles that they have listed a younger age to make sure they turn up in searches.

Because men often use age cutoffs in their searches, women who list ages above that cutoff will never be seen. My research assistant Rachel Greenberg and I have examined the age issue by plotting a histogram of the ages of 1, men and 1, women selected at random from the national database of Match.

com, arguably now the largest of the online matchmaking services. We speculated that from age 29 on--the point at which people in our culture tend to become sensitive about growing older--we might see some distinctive patterns in the distribution of ages [ see box on page 34 ]. For men, a small spike appeared in the distribution at 32 and a large one at The number of men calling themselves 36 was dramatically higher than the average frequency of men between the ages of 37 and For women, we found three clear age spikes at 29, 35 and The difference between the number of women claming to be 29 and the average frequency of women claiming to be between ages 30 and 34 was nearly eight times larger than we would expect by chance.

Apparently women at certain ages are reluctant to reveal those ages--and certain numerical ages are especially appealing, presumably because our culture attaches less stigma to those ages.

Tests That Fail I have been a researcher for about 30 years and a test designer for nearly half those years. When I see extravagant ads for online tests that promise to find people a soul mate, I find myself asking, "How on earth could such a test exist? For a psychometric evaluation to be taken seriously by scientists, the test itself needs to clear two hurdles.

It needs to be shown to be reliable--which means, roughly, that you can count on it to produce stable results. And it needs to be shown to be a valid measure of what it is supposed to be measuring. With a test that matches people up, such validity would be established by showing that the resulting romantic pairings are actually successful.

Criteria for establishing test reliability are quite rigorous. Once relevant data are collected, the results are typically submitted to the scientific community for scrutiny. A peer-reviewed report one vetted by other knowledgeable researchers in the field is ultimately published in an academic journal. Several online services are now built entirely around claims that they have powerful, effective, "scientific" matchmaking tests--most notably eHarmony.

com, promoted by clinical psychologist Neil Warren; PerfectMatch. com, promoted by sociologist Pepper Schwartz of the University of Washington; and Chemistry. com a recent spin-off of Match. com , promoted by anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers. But not one of the tests they offer has ever been subjected to the type of outside scientific verification that I have described.

Why would a major company such as eHarmony, which claims to have 12 million members, not subject its "scientific, dimension" test to a scientific validation process? In eHarmony personnel did present a paper at a national convention claiming that married couples who met through eHarmony were happier than couples who met by other means.

Typically such a paper would then be submitted for possible publication in a peer-reviewed journal. But this paper has still not been published, possibly because of its obvious flaws--the most problematic being that the eHarmony couples in the study were newlyweds married an average of six months , whereas the couples in the control group who had met by other means were way past the honeymoon period married an average of 2. eHarmony personnel, including its founder, Neil Warren, did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this article.

In , using eHarmony's own published statistics, a team of credible authorities--among them Philip Zimbardo, a former president of the American Psychological Association--concluded in an online white paper: "When eHarmony recommends someone as a compatible match, there is a 1 in chance that you'll marry this person Given that eHarmony delivers about 1. scientific psychology is able to pair individuals who will enjoy happy, lasting marriages.

Think about how difficult this task is. Most online matching is done, for example, by pairing up people who are "similar" in various respects. But you do not need to look farther than your own family and friends to know that similarity is not always a good predictor of success in a relationship. Sometimes opposites really do attract. How could an online test possibly determine whether you should be paired with someone similar or with someone different, or with some magic mix?

And even if validated predictive tests eventually appeared online, how could such tests possibly predict how two people will feel when they finally meet--when that all-important "chemistry" comes into play? Oddly enough, eHarmony does not even ask people about their body type, even though research shows unequivocally that physical appearance is important to both men and women.

About two years ago I arranged to meet for coffee with a woman I had corresponded with online. I arrived early and sat at a table in a conspicuous spot. After a few minutes, a woman came to my table, sat down and said with big smile, "Hi, I'm Chris! But Chris was not the woman in the online photos. This wasn't a question of an age discrepancy or a new hairdo. She was a completely different woman. Chris was in marketing, you see, and to her it was simply a good strategy to post photographs that would draw in as many "customers" as possible.

I never said a word about the photos. I just enjoyed our conversation and the refreshments. A few weeks later I noticed that Chris had replaced the photos with those of yet another woman. In the U. alone, tens of millions of people are trying to find dates or spouses online every day. How accurate are the ads they find? And just how successful is online dating compared with conventional dating? These and other questions have recently stimulated a small explosion of studies by social scientists.

The research is quickly revealing many surprising things about the new world of online dating, and some of the findings could be of great value to the millions who now look to the Internet to find love. Deception at Light Speed Experiences such as the one I had with Chris are multiplying by the thousands: some people online lie quite drastically about their age, marital or parental status, appearance, income or profession.

There are even Web sites, such as www. com , where people go to gripe, and a few lawsuits have been filed against online services by disgruntled suitors. Just how bad is deception in online dating? To put this issue in context, bear in mind that deception has always played at least a small role in courting. One could even argue that deception is a necessary part of wooing a potential partner "Yes, I love sports!

But cyberspace introduces a host of new possibilities. Survey research conducted by media researcher Jeana Frost of Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that about 20 percent of online daters admit to deception. If you ask them how many other people are lying, however--an interviewing tactic that probably gets closer to the truth--that number jumps to 90 percent.

Because self-reported data can be unreliable, especially those from people asked to confess bad things about themselves, several researchers have sought objective ways to quantify online deception. For example, psychologist Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University and communications professor Nicole Ellison of Michigan State University bring people into a lab, where they measure height and weight and then check the numbers against those in their online profiles.

The preliminary data suggest that, on average, online profiles shave off about five pounds and add perhaps an inch in height. According to Ellison, although deception is "fairly common, the lies are of a very small magnitude. In another attempt to collect objective data on deception, economists Guenter Hitsch and Ali Hortasu of the University of Chicago and psychologist Dan Ariely of M. compared the heights and weights of online daters with the same statistics obtained from national census data.

Like Hancock and Ellison, they found that online height is exaggerated by only an inch or so for both men and women but that women appear to understate their weight more and more as they get older: by five pounds when they are in their 20s, 17 pounds in their 30s and 19 pounds in their 40s.

For men, the major areas of deception are educational level, income, height, age and marital status; at least 13 percent of online male suitors are thought to be married. For women, the major areas of deception are weight, physical appearance and age. All of the relevant research shows the importance of physical appearance for both sexes, and online daters interpret the absence of photos negatively.

According to one recent survey, men's profiles without photos draw one fourth the response of those with photos, and women's profiles without photos draw only one sixth the response of those with photos. If you are a Garrison Keillor fan, you have probably heard about the fictional Lake Wobegon on National Public Radio, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Rationale for Falsehoods Why so much inaccuracy? One theory, formulated in the late s and early s by Sara Kiesler and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, suggests that by its very nature "computer-mediated communication" is disinhibiting, causing people to say just about anything they feel like saying. Because people typically use screen names rather than real ones, their ramblings are anonymous and hence not subject to social norms.

There are also no physical cues or consequences--no visible communication gestures, raised eyebrows, grimaces, and so on--to keep people's behavior in check. As a result, online daters tend to construct what Ellison and her colleagues Jennifer Gibbs of Rutgers University and Rebecca Heino of Georgetown University call an "ideal self" rather than a real one. A study published recently by Ellison and her colleagues even suggests that online daters often regret it when they do tell the truth, feeling that too much honesty, especially about negative attributes, creates a bad impression.

There are also straightforward, practical reasons for lying. Many women are quite open about listing much younger ages, often stating in the text of their profiles that they have listed a younger age to make sure they turn up in searches. Because men often use age cutoffs in their searches, women who list ages above that cutoff will never be seen.

My research assistant Rachel Greenberg and I have examined the age issue by plotting a histogram of the ages of 1, men and 1, women selected at random from the national database of Match.

com, arguably now the largest of the online matchmaking services. We speculated that from age 29 on--the point at which people in our culture tend to become sensitive about growing older--we might see some distinctive patterns in the distribution of ages [ see box on page 34 ].

For men, a small spike appeared in the distribution at 32 and a large one at The number of men calling themselves 36 was dramatically higher than the average frequency of men between the ages of 37 and For women, we found three clear age spikes at 29, 35 and The difference between the number of women claming to be 29 and the average frequency of women claiming to be between ages 30 and 34 was nearly eight times larger than we would expect by chance. Apparently women at certain ages are reluctant to reveal those ages--and certain numerical ages are especially appealing, presumably because our culture attaches less stigma to those ages.

Tests That Fail I have been a researcher for about 30 years and a test designer for nearly half those years. When I see extravagant ads for online tests that promise to find people a soul mate, I find myself asking, "How on earth could such a test exist?

For a psychometric evaluation to be taken seriously by scientists, the test itself needs to clear two hurdles. It needs to be shown to be reliable--which means, roughly, that you can count on it to produce stable results. And it needs to be shown to be a valid measure of what it is supposed to be measuring.

With a test that matches people up, such validity would be established by showing that the resulting romantic pairings are actually successful. Criteria for establishing test reliability are quite rigorous. Once relevant data are collected, the results are typically submitted to the scientific community for scrutiny. A peer-reviewed report one vetted by other knowledgeable researchers in the field is ultimately published in an academic journal. Several online services are now built entirely around claims that they have powerful, effective, "scientific" matchmaking tests--most notably eHarmony.

com, promoted by clinical psychologist Neil Warren; PerfectMatch. com, promoted by sociologist Pepper Schwartz of the University of Washington; and Chemistry. com a recent spin-off of Match. com , promoted by anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers. But not one of the tests they offer has ever been subjected to the type of outside scientific verification that I have described. Why would a major company such as eHarmony, which claims to have 12 million members, not subject its "scientific, dimension" test to a scientific validation process?

In eHarmony personnel did present a paper at a national convention claiming that married couples who met through eHarmony were happier than couples who met by other means. Typically such a paper would then be submitted for possible publication in a peer-reviewed journal. But this paper has still not been published, possibly because of its obvious flaws--the most problematic being that the eHarmony couples in the study were newlyweds married an average of six months , whereas the couples in the control group who had met by other means were way past the honeymoon period married an average of 2.

eHarmony personnel, including its founder, Neil Warren, did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this article. In , using eHarmony's own published statistics, a team of credible authorities--among them Philip Zimbardo, a former president of the American Psychological Association--concluded in an online white paper: "When eHarmony recommends someone as a compatible match, there is a 1 in chance that you'll marry this person Given that eHarmony delivers about 1.

scientific psychology is able to pair individuals who will enjoy happy, lasting marriages. Think about how difficult this task is. Most online matching is done, for example, by pairing up people who are "similar" in various respects. But you do not need to look farther than your own family and friends to know that similarity is not always a good predictor of success in a relationship.

Sometimes opposites really do attract. How could an online test possibly determine whether you should be paired with someone similar or with someone different, or with some magic mix? And even if validated predictive tests eventually appeared online, how could such tests possibly predict how two people will feel when they finally meet--when that all-important "chemistry" comes into play?

Oddly enough, eHarmony does not even ask people about their body type, even though research shows unequivocally that physical appearance is important to both men and women. But the biggest problem with online testing is the "false negative problem. The good news, though, is that according to psychologist Larry D. Rosen of California State University, Dominguez Hills, "In our studies only 30 percent of the people say they use [online tests] at all, and most of those people find them ridiculous.

High Hopes and Poor Odds Advertising materials from the largest online dating services--Match, eHarmony, True. com and Yahoo! Personals--suggest that more than 50 million Americans are now using such services assuming relatively little overlap in membership and that satisfaction levels are high. But recent independent studies suggest that only 16 million Americans were using online dating services by late and that satisfaction levels were low.

Based on a phone survey with more than 2, people, Jupiter Research reports that "barely one quarter of users reported being very satisfied or satisfied with online personals sites. According to Trish McDermott, a longtime spokesperson for Match and now an executive at Engage. com, the confusion over membership figures results from the fact that while a large company such as Match might advertise that it has 15 million members, less than a million are actually paying customers.

The others have full profiles online--an important marketing draw--but cannot respond to e-mails. This is one of several reasons, according to McDermott, why many paying members get frustrated by a lack of response to their e-mails; the vast majority of people in the profiles simply cannot respond.

One of my greatest concerns about online dating has to do with what I call the "click problem. Online dating probably is making things worse. No matter what Hollywood tells us, long-term relationships take patience, skill and effort.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Harvard Connections Show How Money Can Distort Research,Get smart. Sign up for our email newsletter.

 · Epstein-Barr, it appears, has to combine with a genetic predisposition and possibly environmental factors, such as smoking and vitamin D deficiency, to increase risk.  · However, the authors’ uncertainty hypothesis predicted that women should be most attracted to those whose feelings they weren’t so sure about. Indeed, the results confirmed  · It’s these strengths that make the online dating industry’s weaknesses so disappointing. We’ll focus on two of the major weaknesses here: the overdependence on  · The following summaries offer a quick introduction to some of the dating techniques researchers have been using to explore and reconstruct our planet's past, from billion  · In other words, scientific ways to up your online dating game. Some of these evidence-based tactics are obvious. Post an attractive profile pic. Be nice. Be funny. Others  · Epstein had a twisted take on genetics, hosting scientific conferences at which he expressed his desire to propagate his own genome by impregnating up to 20 women at a time at his New Mexico ranch ... read more

For more, check out the February 14th episode of the daily Scientific American podcast Second Science. Several online services are now built entirely around claims that they have powerful, effective, "scientific" matchmaking tests--most notably eHarmony. The second is that the weight of the scientific evidence suggests that the principles underlying current mathematical matching algorithms—similarity and complementarity—cannot achieve any notable level of success in fostering long-term romantic compatibility. Some use radioactive isotopes; others take advantage of different phenomena, such as thermoluminescence and electron spin resonance. Create Account See Subscription Options. In the disease, inflammation damages the myelin sheath that insulates nerve cells, ultimately disrupting signals to and from the brain and causing a variety of symptoms, from numbness and pain to paralysis. You can't lie about your race, your height, your weight.

These dips, some of them were—I should say these spikes followed by the dips—those were about nine times as large as you would expect by chance. If so, of what sort? Get smart. See Subscription Options. No matter what Hollywood tells us, long-term relationships take patience, skill and effort. But online, you see, it takes it to a whole new level, because the online world is of course virtual, meaning you can do or say anything—you can be anyone, and people quickly discover that when they are trying to do some online courting and unfortunately it gets way out of hand and people have investigated this a number of different ways so far; and I did my own bit of research, collected some new data for this article, and it is pretty frightening actually because the epstein explains in an online dating article for scientific american can get crazy. The Body.

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