Archive for the ‘History’ Category

A “body-odour” matching engine

Almost all of the world’s popular matchmaking websites use some kind of a personality matching algorithm. iBluebottle’s matching engine, CHARMM, analyses your responses to a personality test to come up with compatible matches for you.

These matching algorithms utilize psychographic research to determine which personality types will be most compatible with each other. Although the scientific evidence for the efficacy of such algorithms has remained inconclusive, they have been shown to have a good deal of ability to predict a successful long-term relationship.

Recently we read about a interesting matching engine featured in the April 1924 issue of a scientific magazine called Science & Invention. This article talked about “certain basic tests which can be made today and which will give one a reasonable assurance of married happiness.”

The four tests are:

  1. The physical attraction test – You and your partner both have electrodes attached to your wrist and tapes across your chest. Then you embrace and kiss. If your pulse rate rises or your rate of breathing goes up, it is taken as an evidence of physical attraction, the most important determinant of marital bliss.
  2. The sympathy test – Your partner undergoes a mildly traumatic event, like having blood drawn, and if you get excitable enough as measured by your muscular contractions and catching your breath, you are deemed to be sympathetic to your partner.
  3. The body odour test - As can be seen in the picture above, the couple is made to smell each other (an unpleasant task, the author of the article conceded). If they do not find each other’s smell too disagreeable as indicated by the measuring devices attached to their bodies, it augurs well for their relationship.
  4. The nervous disorder test – This test is to ascertain if at least one of the partners remains calm under pressure. A sudden gunshot is supposed to be delivered in the air and if both the persons are found to be startled, they should not marry.

As happens with most of the outdated scientific speculation that didn’t survive scrutiny, these tests do manage to raise an innocent chuckle but how relevant would these tests be today?

It can be plausibly argued that all but the body odour test  (which you can probably game using deodorants or perfume) could possibly result in at least some valid assumptions. Maybe it is stretching the imagination too far to infer that today’s personality tests could be somehow mapped to the above tests but they do illustrate our continuous quest of defining and measuring romantic compatibility.

Maybe in future we will develop some kind of a foolproof DNA-based compatibility matching system that would render the present personality-based tests as comical as the tests above!