Research, Mind & body

What makes us click? Ask an online dating expert

By Yasmin Anwar


It’s peak season for online dating activity, as singles swipe right, or left, to net potential love matches in time for Valentine’s Day.

Skyler Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology, studies online dating trends.

While many say they harbor mixed feelings about using technology to find soulmates, studies indicate that most Americans find online dating an acceptable and convenient way to meet potential partners.

Skyler Wang , a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UC Berkeley, has been tracking cultural trends in online dating. He refers to the practice as “relationshopping.”

“Basically, people are treating dating like shopping, as if you’re looking for the next dress or next handbag. It’s like browsing,” and that can make one’s peers feel like commodities, he says in an interview on the new NPR series “What Makes Us Click: How Online Dating Shapes Our Relationships.”

Wang notes that, even before hitting the clubs, his friends are using online apps such as Tinder and Grindr to find a dance partner ahead of time.

That said, dating apps can be helpful in narrowing down potential prospects, he says, and the magic of romance still happens in person, at least for now.

To hear the segment on online dating on NPR’s Morning Edition, click here .