Mate Selection in the Network Society: The Role of the Internet in Reconfiguring Marriages in Australia, the United Kingdom and United States

25 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2008 Last revised: 3 Dec 2015

William H. Dutton

Michigan State University - Quello Center

Ellen Johanna Helsper

Independent

Monica T. Whitty

University of Leiceter

Galen Buckwalter

eHarmony Labs

Erina Lee

eHarmony Labs

Date Written: September 30, 2008

Abstract

This working paper explores the role of the Internet in reconfiguring marriages, introducing couples that meet in person and later marry, through a set of online surveys of married couples in Britain, Australia, and the US. We found that a sizeable proportion of online married couples in each country first met their spouse online, usually through an online dating service, chat room or on instant messaging (IM). This is more prominent for younger couples, but many couples at all ages can be found who met online. Moreover, our initial analyses, based on UK couples, indicate that meeting online is likely to introduce people to others whom they would not be as likely to meet through other means. The Internet might well open people to more diversity in their choice of a partner, such as by introducing individuals with greater differences in age or education, but with more similar interests and values. These findings are preliminary, but suggestive of significant social trends and indirect implications of social networking in the digital age. Based on these observations, we are planning to extend our analyses of the differences across couples introduced online and offline to our Australian and US samples. Also, we are planning additional surveys in more countries that can examine the degree that these findings can be supported in other contexts and overtime.

This working paper was prepared for discussion at a forum, entitled 'Meeting, Dating, Marriage and the Internet', held at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, 3 October 2008. The research was supported by a grant from eHarmony, a US based online match-making company supporting research on the science of relationships.

Keywords: Mate selection, Internet, marriage, online dating

Suggested Citation

Dutton, William H. and Helsper, Ellen Johanna and Whitty, Monica T. and Buckwalter, Galen and Lee, Erina, Mate Selection in the Network Society: The Role of the Internet in Reconfiguring Marriages in Australia, the United Kingdom and United States (September 30, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1275810 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1275810

William H. Dutton (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

HOME PAGE: http://quello.msu.edu

Ellen Johanna Helsper

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Monica T. Whitty

University of Leiceter ( email )

University of Leicester
Leicester
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/school_research/social/staff/57746gp.html

Galen Buckwalter

eHarmony Labs ( email )

888 East Walnut Street
2nd Floor
Pasadena, CA 91101
United States

Erina Lee

eHarmony Labs ( email )

888 East Walnut Street
2nd Floor
Pasadena, CA 91101
United States

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