Matchmaker might be happier than those matched
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, matchmaking could result in more happiness for the matchmaker than for the couple set up, according to new research that will be presented this week at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Austin.
“At some point, most people have made matches between others – like grabbing two strangers by the arm at a party and introducing them to each other – or can think of a friend notorious for their efforts to make introductions,” said study author Lalin Anik, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, in a press release.
Anik and colleague Michael Norton of Harvard Business School looked into the effects of this age-old practice, particularly the emotional benefits for those who connect others. They also discovered that matchmaking brings the most happiness to those who introduce people who not only appear to be compatible, but would be unlikely to meet otherwise. Linking people who are not likely to be in the same social network, can be more rewarding for the one making the match.
“There are many reasons why people make matches,” Anik said, adding “matchmakers may be proud that they have the social acumen to recognize a social link that others hadn’t.” She also suggests matchmakers may view this pairing as an act of kindness, or want to be “the key person who made that critical match between newlyweds or between business partners who started a successful venture.”
Anik mentions that the increasing use of social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn has made matchmaking both easy and essential to social life, though our understanding of relationships may be changing.
“The study of matchmaking is especially timely now as social structures, as well as definitions of social ties and friendships are changing,” Anik said. “Our exploration of matchmaking can help people to navigate their increasingly complex social webs.”
Such future research will examine the possible adverse effects of matchmaking – the costs to someone’s emotions and reputation when an introduction goes poorly.
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