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Cacioppo acknowledged being a "paid scientific advisor" for the website, but said the researchers followed procedures provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association and agreed to oversight by independent statisticians.
People who reported meeting their spouse online tended to be age 30-49 and of higher income brackets than those who met their spouses offline, the survey found.
With the increasing use of the Internet as a way for people to communicate, online dating sites have become a highly popular way for single people to meet and find romantic partners.
"Success in marriage is largely about how you negotiate differences, not just compatibility," she told AFP, adding that online dating can raise expectations and result in greater unhappiness.
Online dating has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry and the Internet "may be altering the dynamics and outcome of marriage itself," said the study by U. researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, some experts took issue with the findings because the survey was commissioned by e Harmony.com, the dating site that attracted one quarter of all online marriages according to the research.
"Nobody's surprised when a minuscule effect reaches statistical significance with a sample of 20,000 people, but it's important that we don't misunderstand 'statistical significance' to mean 'practical significance.'" Finkel also took issue with e Harmony's involvement in the study.
"I'm always a bit wary when a project is entirely funded by a private organization that clearly has a vested interest in the results," he said.
Among couples who were still married during the survey, those who met online reported higher marital satisfaction -- an average score of 5.64 on a satisfaction survey -- than those who met offline and averaged 5.48.