“Because people so much want to find somebody, we find that they read into the profile.

They kind of see that person as a good match for them, and that they have a lot in common,” Norton told .

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After seeing each trait, subjects would indicate whether that trait also described them.

The first trait had a negative amplifying effect, the scientists found.

In the second reinforcing experiment, scientists surveyed two groups of online daters.

Subjects in one group answered questions about an upcoming date.

The scores given to pre-dates were much higher than those for post-dates.

And the perceived degree of similarity between participants and dates also took a dive after face-to-face encounters. Online profiles inherently provide limited pictures of people, a level of vagueness that is fuel, Norton said, for love-seeking imaginations.

More evidence Two additional experiments backed up this finding.

In one, scientists asked each of 190 students to complete a Web-based survey in which they were shown 10 traits, one at a time.

“One of the reasons people are so optimistic when they read these things is because everybody kind of shades their profile a little bit more positive then maybe it should be,” Norton said.

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And as soon as I find that one thing, then things start to cascade so everything else I learn about you suddenly now feels like more evidence that we are dissimilar and we don’t get along,” Norton said.