It all sounds very scientific. I picture Kate Winslet in a slinky black dress under a white lab coat, mixing a beaker of crimson sex appeal and cool blue psychometric theory.
Yet there are serious questions about the validity of eHarmony's much-vaunted "scientific, 29-dimension" tests. Does their "science" greatly improve the quality or odds of a match? How good is their tests' construct validity? After all, many matches are made without a hint (or claim) of scientific basis for the pairing. Though the company and its founder, Neil Clark Warren, insist that the tests are useful, they have yet to be scientifically validated.
eHarmony, incidentally, does not offer services to same-sex partners because Warren, an evangelical Christian, does not believe homosexuality should be encouraged. However, in 2009 eHarmony launched a gay-friendly sister site called Compatible Partners.
Steven Carter, director of research at eHarmony, wrote an article in the February 2005 issue of the Association for Psychological Science's Observer. Carter offered little or no scientific support for the tests' claims, but he did state that "to date, we estimate that over 9,000 eHarmony couples have married."
That statistic, if true, clearly doesn't tell the whole story, as it cherry-picks the successes and omits the failures: how many of the eHarmony matches were not compatible?