Dating websites which claim to match people with complex computer analysis of their traits and preferences may not really work, suggests new research.
The study published in the journal Psychological Science found that a machine-learning algorithm just simply could not tell what makes two people click.
"Attraction for a particular person may be difficult or impossible to predict before two people have actually met," said lead author of the study Samantha Joel, Professor at University of Utah in the US.
"A relationship is more than the sum of its parts. There is a shared experience that happens when you meet someone that can't be predicted beforehand," Joel said.
The researchers used data from two samples of speed daters, who filled out questionnaires about more than 100 traits and preferences and then met in a series of four-minute dates.
Afterward, the participants rated their interactions, indicating level of interest in and sexual attraction to each person they met.
Joel and her colleagues used a machine-learning algorithm to test whether it was possible to predict unique romantic desire based on participants' questionnaire responses and before the individuals met.
The answer was 'no'.
They found it was possible to predict the overall tendency for someone to like and to be liked by others -- but not which two particular people were a match.
"We found we cannot anticipate how much individuals will uniquely desire each other in a speed-dating context with any meaningful level of accuracy," Joel said.
It would be great if people were able to circumvent the hassle and heartache of the dating process by entering information into a computer and having it produce the perfect soul mate, Joel said.
"We tried to do it and we couldn't do it," Joel said.