The online dating site eHarmony has been claiming that it uses a “scientifically proven matching system” for some time. But, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced that it’s banned the service from using the phrase in its marketing as they are “misleading” and there’s no evidence to support the claims.
A recent billboard ad used in London also used the slogan “Step aside, fate. It’s time science had ago at love.” Followed by “Imagine being able to stack the odds of finding lasting love entirely in your favour. eHarmony’s scientifically proven matching system decodes the mystery of compatibility and chemistry so you don’t have to. Why leave the most important search of your life to chance?”
Former member of the ASA Lord Lipsey, who is also joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics triggered the initial complaint, saying that “Phrases like ‘scientifically proven’ should be confined to claims that are just that, not used in crude puffery designed to lure in those longing for love.” Adding that “This is a new form of fake news which the ASA has rightly slapped down.”
eHarmony defended the claims, saying that the algorithm it used was based on scientific theories from the relationship literature of assortative mating. It also said that an extensive amount of research and effort was put into developing questionnaires, which can be used to assess different values, interests, characteristics and other factors in its users.
The algorithm was based on data it had collected from over 50,000 married couples across different countries, from which models were used to rate the probably of successful relationships. eHarmony claims the users were matched based on complementary factors from this data, which they believe makes them more likely to complement each other.
However, the ASA has argued that although their algorithms are based on thorough research, consumers would be more likely to associate the phrase “scientifically proven matching system” with scientific studies. This also implies that consumers would be more likely to find love than they would if they didn’t use the service, which hasn’t been proven by eHarmony or any other external sources.
Managing director at eharmony UK Romain Bertrand said: “eharmony was conceived on the premise that science and research could be harnessed to help people find love. For over 17 years, eharmony has been matching singles into high-quality, long-lasting relationships based upon sophisticated matching standards designed by PhD psychologists”.
“Although we respectfully disagree with the ASA’s findings, we are happy to work with them to assure that our advertising is as clear as possible. eharmony remains committed to providing our customers with the highest quality matches intended to go the distance.”