Sunday, September 13, 2009

People are experience goods (online dating version)

What do you get when you cross an online dating site with speed dating? Virtual Date... Here's an interesting paper on adding some texture to the online dating marketplace.

Frost, Jeana H., Zoe Chance, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. People Are Experience Goods: Improving Online Dating with Virtual Dates. Journal of Interactive Marketing 22, no. 1 (winter 2008): 51-62.

Abstract: "We suggest that online dating frequently fails to meet user expectations because people, unlike many commodities available for purchase online, are experience goods: Daters wish to screen potential romantic partners by experiential attributes (such as sense of humor or rapport), but online dating Web sites force them to screen by searchable attributes (such as income or religion). We demonstrate that people spend too much time searching for options online for too little payoff in offline dates (Study 1), in part because users desire information about experiential attributes, but online dating Web sites contain primarily searchable attributes (Study 2). Finally, we introduce and beta test the Virtual Date, offering potential dating partners the opportunity to acquire experiential information by exploring a virtual environment in interactions analogous to real first dates (such as going to a museum), an online intervention that led to greater liking after offline meetings (Study 3)."


Moira said...

Here's another example of a people as experience goods application: "speed shrinking," an opportunity for prospective patients to sample a number of therapists in a short period of time.

I think it's a potentially important application. The traditional way of choosing a therapist is asking friends and professionals for suggestions, getting up the nerve to call for an appointment, waiting for insurance to approve the paperwork, then spending an hour or more for an initial consultation. If you're not happy with the "fit," you have to start all over again. The prospect of doing this all over again, especially for someone with mental illness, is sufficiently overwhelming that many people will give up and stick with a therapist they're not very happy with.

Not all patients want to do this, of course, and some psychiatrists (like those who run the blog posted below, which discusses speed-shrinking as a method for finding a therapist) aren't too wild about it either.

But some patients I've talked have said they'd find such an event an extremely helpful way to narrow down their search for a therapist and rule out obviously bad fits.

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