Improving Online Dating with Virtual Dates

27 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2006

See all articles by Jeana Frost

Jeana Frost

Boston University

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: June 2006


Online dating, a practice where singles visit a website to locate other singles, frequently fails to meet users' expectations. We suggest that this disappointment is due in part to online dating websites' failure to simulate face-to-face interactions, an essential component of the acquaintanceship process. We document users' general disappointment with online dating (Study 1) and their disappointment with specific dates arranged through an online dating website (Study 2). In Study 3 we introduce the Virtual Date, on which potential dating partners explore a virtual environment in an interaction analogous to a real first date (such as going to a museum), a pre-meeting intervention that led to greater liking after meetings had occurred (during speed-dates) than standard online dating.

Keywords: Online dating, computer-mediated communication, decision making, expectations, information, uncertainty

JEL Classification: M30, M31, D80, D83, D84

Suggested Citation

Frost, Jeana and Norton, Michael I. and Ariely, Dan, Improving Online Dating with Virtual Dates (June 2006). HBS Marketing Research Paper No. 06-058, Available at SSRN: or

Jeana Frost

Boston University ( email )

720 Harrison Avenue
Suite 1102
Boston, MA 02118
United States
617-638-5791 (Phone)

Michael I. Norton (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
(919) 381-4366 (Phone)

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