Catalina Toma is an expert in communication technologies, specifically, their social and psychological effects. She works as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Since 2004, Toma has been researching online dating. Over the years, the world of online dating has shifted, but Toma maintains that the human need for connection is a fundamental one. Online dating is alive and well, and she predicts this will continue well into the future.
Toma partnered with Communication Science doctoral candidate Jonathan D’Angelo to conduct an experiment that explored whether number and reversibility of choice have an effect on online relationships. The study, published in the print edition of Media Psychology, included 152 undergraduate students. The researchers gave each participant either a large set of 24 potential partners or a small set of six. After a week, the least satisfied participants were those that had more options and the ability to reverse their choice. Toma credits these findings to the “grass is always greener” effect. Increasing the number of choices proved to be problematic. People wondered whether another potential partner might be a better fit.
WORT Producer Alejandro Alonso Galva spoke with Toma about this study and other research surrounding the topic of online dating. They discuss the status of online dating, the generational differences between certain methods, and the misconceptions that exist about dating in 2017.