"Nobody's surprised when a minuscule effect reaches statistical significance with a sample of 20,000 people, but it's important that we don't misunderstand 'statistical significance' to mean 'practical significance.'" Finkel also took issue with e Harmony's involvement in the study."I'm always a bit wary when a project is entirely funded by a private organization that clearly has a vested interest in the results," he said.Other new data released last month from a Pew Research Center survey found that just 15% of Americans report not using the Internet.
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In addition, former e Harmony researcher Gian Gonzaga is one of the five co-authors."It's a very impressive study," says social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
"But it was paid for by somebody with a horse in the race and conducted by an organization that might have an incentive to tell this story."Does this study suggest that meeting online is a compelling way to meet a partner who is a good marriage prospect for you? But it's "premature to conclude that online dating is better than offline dating."The findings about greater happiness in online couples "are tiny effects," says Finkel,whose research published last year found "no compelling evidence" to support dating website claims that their algorithms work better than other ways of pairing romantic partners.
Cacioppo acknowledged being a "paid scientific advisor" for the website, but said the researchers followed procedures provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association and agreed to oversight by independent statisticians.
People who reported meeting their spouse online tended to be age 30-49 and of higher income brackets than those who met their spouses offline, the survey found.
Online dating has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry and the Internet "may be altering the dynamics and outcome of marriage itself," said the study by U. researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.