Study: Setting People Up Makes The Matchmaker Feel Good

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A new series of studies has found that matchmaking brings a whole lot of happiness — but not necessarily to the couple. Rather, the matchmaker herself enjoys the greatest benefits of bringing others together.

We knew there was a method to the “Millionaire Matchmaker”‘s madness.

Researchers Lalin Anik and Michael Norton conducted four studies on modern matchmaking, which will be presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference this week.

One of the studies asked that participants introduce one another in the laboratory. Some were asked to pair up others based on whether they thought they would get along, others based on whether they thought they would not get along, and still others based on random characteristics, such as their social security numbers. They found participants who paired people that they thought might get along felt an increase in happiness while the other groups felt no change in their moods.

In another study, participants were asked to play a computer game in which they saw a target face and selected one of three other faces with whom they thought the target face might become good friends or lovers with. Here’s where things get interesting: some participants were rewarded with cash for each match they made, and the reward made them lose interest in the game. Participants who weren’t paid kept playing for much longer than whose who were compensated. Apparently, the satisfaction of setting people up comes from a purely emotional place. (Not that that has stopped The Millionaire’s Club. )

The researchers also found that matchmakers are most fulfilled by setting up two seemingly compatible people who probably wouldn’t have met on their own, rather than people from the same social network who might have crossed paths eventually without the introduction. The takeaway here? Set up everyone you know!

Actually, the next research topic on the agenda is the emotional and reputation-based effects of set-ups gone wrong. So maybe wait until those findings are published before you turn your inner circle into a blind date free-for-all. [Science Daily]

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