Acknowledgements

Many people in and around the MIT Media Lab gave me valuable advice, support, and friendship during my thesis work. I am grateful as well to the Sponsors of the Media Lab for the generous support that enabled this research.

In particular, I would like to thank:

My adviser, Judith Donath, and my thesis readers, Dan Ariely and Pattie Maes.

Jeana Frost and Mike Norton, for their insights into online dating.

The Sociable Media crowd, past and present, especially Karrie Karahalios, Fernanda Viegas, Scott Golder, Ethan Perry, danah boyd, Hyun-Yeul Lee, and Kelly Dobson.

Rosalind Picard and Bahktiar Mikhak, whose courses were inspiring.

Dave Glasser and Rajiv Eranki, two great undergraduate researchers who were a pleasure to work with.

Linda Peterson and Pat Solakoff, without whom the Lab wouldn't last a day (in several senses).

Andy Lin and Evan Metter for their suggestions and encouragement.

Casey Roberts for her support and understanding. My parents, Thomas Fiore and Carol Tresolini, and my sister, Julia Fiore, for sparking my curiosity in the first place.

Chapter 1

Introduction to Online Dating

Human and institutional intermediaries for centuries have connected couples for romantic relationships. Matchmakers, video dating, newspaper personal advertisements, and speed dating vie for the faith and the money of their clients (Ahuvia & Adelman 1992).

These services have historically served only a small subset of the single population; the stigma of desperation and social awkwardness pervades popular accounts of their users (Ahuvia & Adelman 1992). Perhaps the stigma was not entirely incorrect: Goodwin (1990) found that although users of a dating service in Britain equalled a control group in socioeconomic status, they lagged behind in dating skills. It makes sense that the small, elective population of a dating service would be self-selected for having difficulty meeting a romantic partner through traditional channels.

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