Spoilt by choice It may offer access to plenty of singles, but online dating STILL won't find you true love

Online dating has just been revealed to be one of the most common ways to start a relationship. But new research reveals that the concept is still highly flawed.

An analysis of 400 studies into online dating shows that while it offers access to plenty of other singles, users can be overwhelmed and put off by the volume of choice, defeating the purpose.

The research, by Northwestern University and published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, found that the processes involved don't lend themselves to forming strong relationships.

Overwhelmed: While online dating can offer access to plenty of other singles, the concept is flawed because there is too much choice, say experts

Overwhelmed: While online dating can offer access to plenty of other singles, the concept is flawed because there is too much choice, say experts

The findings also indicated that the concept of an online profile is not entirely useful and 'can result in the objectification of potential partners'.

Lead author Eli J Finkel explained: 'Online dating is a terrific addition for singles to meet. That said,
there are two problems.'

First, poring over seemingly endless lists of profiles of people one
does not know, as on Match.com, does not reveal much about them.

it 'overloads people and they end up shutting down,' he said.

He compared it to shopping at 'supermarkets of love' and said
psychological research shows people presented with too many choices tend
to make lazy and often poor decisions.

The study's authors also questioned the algorithms employed by sites
such as eHarmony.com to match people based on their interests or
personality – comparing it to having a real estate agent of love.

Of couples in the U.S. who started a relationship between 2007 and 2009,
22 per cent met via an online dating site.Online dating is now the second most common way to meet a partner after meeting through friends.The average user of an online dating site spends 12 hours a week searching profiles of prospective partners.In just one month last year, there were 25million people using online dating sites.

While the algorithm may reduce the number of potential partners from
thousands to a few, they may be as incompatible as
two people meeting at random, Dr Finkel explained, adding the odds are no better
than finding a relationship by strolling into any bar.

'At the end of the day, similarity predicts very, very little,' he told the Washington Post.

He dismissed dating websites' own studies on their success as
unscientific, adding that there are as yet no objective, data-driven
studies of online dating. The researchers reviewed the literature on
online dating and compared it to previous research.

Perhaps tackling the limitations of online dating
are mobile dating websites such as Badoo.com and Zoosk.com. The sites
offer some information about other members but more importantly allow
participants visiting a museum, say, to ask others logged on nearby to
meet up.

'There's no better way to figure out whether you're compatible with
somebody than talking to them over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer,' Dr Finkel said.