The big problem with these algorithms is their reliance on personality tests. Hussey is skeptical that questionnaires can really cover all of the important components of lasting attraction. “It assumes that we know the nuances that get people attracted to each other,” he points out. “It also relies on people telling the truth in the questionnaires!”
Hussey isn’t the only one who questions the validity of self-reported answers. A 2008 study of online daters found that many profiles contain blatant lies, even about the easiest of traits: Men lied more about their height, and women lied more about their weight. Scientists have even found that people are more likely to exaggerate their traits when they are specifically looking to find a date on the Internet.
Sometimes this occurs deliberately, but often, it doesn’t. The trouble with self-reported measures is that they assume people actually know what they are like, but often, we don’t. We’re not as good at judging our own personalities as other people are, for example. When we read a question such as “on a scale of 1 to 10, how nice are you?” no one wants to say “I’m a total jerk!” So they tend to respond as who they want to be, rather than how they really are.
But perhaps an even bigger problem is that even when such tests are designed and administered by trained professionals, results can vary. Test-retest repeatability of 70 percent is considered good enough in the field, but clearly, that means that day-to-day, our results will be different. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, some people’s responses change a lot while others are fairly consistent, and external factors like when and how the test is taken, how the questions are worded and even the instructions that are read beforehand can change how people respond.
That’s not to say there isn’t a little science to finding a great relationship. Hussey has a four-prong formula of his own that provides the building blocks to lasting attraction. And while he hasn’t published any papers on his four components, decades of research support his theorem. His “Attraction Formula” isn’t an algorithm for finding the perfect guy—it’s a set of criteria that are found in healthy, happy, long-term relationships. Here’s the formula: Visual Chemistry + Perceived Value + Perceived Challenge + Connection = Love.
• Visual Chemistry. “Looks play a part in everything,” says Hussey. “I can never argue that they don’t.” But he is quick to note that Visual Chemistry isn’t just about looks. “Looks create a reflex response,” he explains, “but the trap that people fall into is assuming that the reflex response is the deep level response.”
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but animation, says Hussey, creates attraction. “When you’re with someone, and they’re living and breathing and joking and moving and thinking and gesturing, then you really know how attracted you can be to that person.” Scientific research supports his statement. Scientists have found that videos of people are rated more highly than photographs, suggesting that people are perceived as more attractive when they are active.