Study: Paying For Online Dating Sites Is More Effective

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One of the reasons free online dating sites are so popular is that paid sites sound like a ripoff. Who wants to shell out hundreds of dollars to meet the love of their life when other sites offer the same services for free?

Last spring, OkCupid argued that people should never pay for online dating because there aren't enough people willing to pay a fee for dating services. Since fewer people means fewer matches, online daters should stick to free sites that may have a larger base of active users. Online Dating: Where To Start

Although OkCupid are right in that people hate paying for websites, others argue that those on paid dating sites will take the service more seriously in order to make the most of their financial investment. The Big Think cites a study published in Current Psychology that tested this idea on a group of undergraduates last year. 7 Biggest Turnoffs In Your Online Dating Profiles

Researchers gathered a group of 145 participants (86 female and 59 male), and asked them to simulate signing up and paying for an online dating site upfront. Afterward, participants were told that the website had found a match, but the person was missing a couple of preferred qualities. Then, researchers informed them that a friend was offering to arrange a blind date with someone who sounded like their perfect match. Participants had to go on dates with both matches, but were given an hour to split between them. 6 Tips For A Perfect Online Dating Photo

Now, we'd think that any sane person would devote 50 minutes to the superior match and 10 minutes to the inferior one, just to scope that person out. Researchers, however, found that the time people gave to the inferior match depended on how much the dating site cost. People who had paid very little, if anything, for the dating site readily committed their time to the blind date. For instance, men who had paid $50 upfront spent 49 minutes on the online date, while those who paid nothing spent only 28 minutes on that same date.

By extension, people who pay for online dating services are more likely to contact matches more selectively, which means that on paid sites, you'll probably receive a lot less spam and inane one-line messages. At the same time, the study does not measure what people consider an investment. Money is an obvious one, but what about time? People who use free sites may spend so much time completing the quizzes, filling out the profile, and doing surveys that they'll end up seeing those hours as a commitment. Time is money, after all.

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Which do you prefer paying for online dating services or using the free ones? How have the results of this study applied to your own experiences with online dating?