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02-Mar-2015 10:45

A percentage of the daters who appear on e Harmony—and other dating sites—are not even paying subscribers, leading one critic to say that many users are, “flirting into the void.” Still, e Harmony is doing a number of things well, according to Dan Ariely.

“First of all, they have this million-question survey,” he said.

But they do include Steve Caplette, who was overcome with emotion on the day he wed Sally Petruzello. “I think it's fair to say that we know a little, but we probably don't know enough to have an algorithm that we think is really good,” said Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University.

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“The (online) description is very skeleton-like,” he said. And then you go and meet them for coffee, there's a gap between what you built in your mind and between what they really are.“So you look at all those tens of thousands of people, what are you going to do?