An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date
- Correspondence to
: Professor Khalid S Khan
, Barts and the London School of Medicine, London, E1 2AB, UK;
Objective To determine, for people seeking a date online, what activities and behaviours have an effect on the chances of converting electronic communication into a face-to-face meeting.
Methods Literature in psychology, sociology, and computer, behavioural and neurocognitive sciences that informed effective online dating was captured through electronic searching of Psychinfo, Medline and Embase in November 2013. Study selection and meta-narrative synthesis were carried out in duplicate.
Results There were 3938 initial citations and 86 studies were synthesised. Initial interest was best captured through: a desirable screen name starting with a letter in the top half of the alphabet; an attractive still picture; and a fluent headline message. For those attracted to browse into the profile, a description of personal traits increased likeability when it: showed who the dater was and what they were looking for in a 70:30 ratio; stayed close to reality; and employed simple language with humour added. Invitations were most successful in obtaining a response from the potential date when they: were short personalised messages addressing a trait in their profile; rhymed with their screen name or headline message; and extended genuine compliments. Online communication was most effective in leading to an in-person meeting if there were: a genuine interest; a rapid turnaround; reciprocity in self-disclosure; mimicry of body movements on the webcam; avoidance of criticism; humour; uncertainty about whether there was likeability; and an early move from electronic chat to a date.
Conclusions Attraction and persuasion research provides an evidence-based approach to online dating.
The authors would like to thank the potential dates who turned down one of us repeatedly, encouraging us to think about the effectiveness of online dating.