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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

eHarmony Seeks Scientific Edge in Uncertain Game of Love

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It looks like any other date: A couple shares a romantic meal in the course of getting to know one another.
Hilarie, a 28-year-old attorney, uses words like perceptive, hard-nosed and skeptical to describe herself. She's focused, curious and outgoing.

Tony, a 32-year-old software engineer, describes himself as fair, sensible and rational. He's also focused, curious and outgoing. That's according to an exhaustive, 320-question self-evaluation that both Hilarie Link and Tony Bako have filled out to join eHarmony, the online dating service that paired them.

It looks like any other first date -- except Hilarie and Tony's rendezvous is being watched over by multiple cameras and a Ph.D. in relationship studies.
The Ph.D. is Gian Gonzaga, who conducts research for eHarmony. Hilarie and Tony have agreed to the strange setup to test the company's ability to match people.

"They seem[ed] to fit very well," Gonzaga said of the couple's eHarmony profiles. "There are a couple of things in there that are special highlights for them in terms of their personalities, which tend to indicate that they might have some things in common that really drive the getting-more-connected in a relationship."

The computer matchup was being put to the test over dinner.

"He shows a lot of gestures with his hands, and they'll also move into leaning in and out toward each other as the conversation goes on," observed Gonzaga. "All of those things are indications of the emotional connection between the two of them."

eHarmony claims it is responsible for 236 marriages a day -- marriages that have already produced 100,000 babies in this country, the company says.

eHarmony: Is There a Formula for Love?

eHarmony CEO Greg Waldorf showed "Nightline" some of those happy newlyweds plastered along a wall at the company's headquarters. All of the relationships were born of a secret computer algorithm that matches people.

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