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Want to find LOVE online? Make sure your name is high up in the alphabet

Boffin develops foolproof love method, snares girlf at last

A scientist, sickened by repeatedly getting turned down when seeking a date online, roped in a colleague and carried out extensive research through scientific literature so as to develop a set of foolproof methods for finding love on the internet. He now has a girlfriend, with whom he spent last week in Rome.

The boffin in question is Sameer Chaudhry of the University of North Texas. He and his fellow researcher, Professor Khalid Khan, have now come out with what they describe as an "evidence based" guide to getting dates online.

The two men write:

Courtship, a key relationship for most adults, has a known association with health. Online dating sits alongside traditional relationship brokerage through the family, the church and the workplace ... It may take months of browsing and hundreds of invitations before a single response materialises. There are differences in how men and women use the online medium, but all users make decisions with limited information. Is there an optimal, evidence-based approach to online dating?

There is much to be learnt from attraction and persuasion research for improving effectiveness of online dating. This literature is scattered across psychology and sociology, as well as computer, behavioural and neurocognitive sciences. We synthesised this evidence to learn how online dating could be improved, maximising the chances of converting electronic communication into a face-to-face meeting.

Chaudhry and Khan trawled through no less than 3,938 academic studies relevant to online dating and scientifically selected the 86 most suitable to boil down into a set of principles.

Many of the things they found out are pretty well known - apparently it really helps to have an attractive picture, for instance. But it turns out to be just as important to choose an online love handle which starts with a letter in the top half of the alphabet. Other handy tips:

The lovelorn should avoid names with negative associations, such as 'Little' or 'Bug', and aim for something more playful, such as 'Fun2bwith' as this type of name is universally attractive.

And would-be daters should take gender into consideration: men are more drawn to names that indicate physical attractiveness, such as 'Blondie' or 'Cutie' while women go for names that signal intelligence, such as 'Cultured.' ...

Women seeking men should wear red as this is likely to boost the level of interest, the evidence shows.

And don't stop at selfies. Group photos showing other people having a good time in your company, preferably with you right in the middle of the action and touching someone else - but only on the upper arm - will help to convey, respectively, your friendliness, importance, and status.

Incidentally, women find a man more attractive when they see other women smiling at him ...

It might be possible to criticise the study on the ground that it is entirely academic and Professor Khan, for one, has no experience of online dating at all. But Chaudhry got his feet wet on this one. The paper produced by the two men, An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date (published in the BMJ) is dedicated:

The authors would like to thank the potential dates who turned down one of us repeatedly, encouraging us to think about the effectiveness of online dating.

Apparently the dashing Chaudhry has implemented his own research successfully: Discovery News called him up last week when the paper came out and found that he was on holiday in Rome with his new girlfriend. ®

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