by Jake Richardson
Have you ever successfully set up any of your friends for a date that turned into a relationship? Or even marriage?
Researchers from the business schools at Harvard and Duke recently found that regular and successful matchmakers can have a greater well-being. Another researcher, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at UC-Riverside, commented about the studies (although she didn't directly participate in them) explaining the link to happiness, "One of the reasons not mentioned in the paper that matchmaking may make people happy is that it increases one's sense of meaning," (source: Reuters). Dr. Lyubomirsky is the author of The How of Happiness, in which she states that we all have a happiness set point or general level that is partly related to our genes. In her book, she also explains that we can control or influence about 40% of our happiness.
It sounds like one contributor to happiness — at least based on the conclusion of the research referenced above — is trying to bring other people together.
The Duke and Harvard researchers actually conducted four different studies related to matchmaking. The first one was an online poll of 300 people. The respondents that were frequently successful in making matches had higher happiness scores. In the second and third studies, it was observed that matchmaking perceived as successful was more rewarding than when not successful, or done based on simply pairing individuals with similar appearances.
In the last study, subjects experienced more satisfaction when they matched individuals that appeared to be different from each other. This observation seemed to confirm the fourth study’s hypothesis, which was that matchmaking might be rewarding because it expands the social networks of the matchmakers. In other words, matching unlikely pairs would probably mean that matchmaker was looking outside her or his normal social circle.
Previous research studies also have found that social connectedness is definitely linked to happiness.
“The upshot of 50 years of happiness research is that the quantity and quality of a person's social connections—friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated. People with many friendships are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping.” (Source: UC-Berkeley)
So it isn't surprising that successful matchmaking — an activity that is deeply social in that it requires intimate knowledge of individuals and their emotional lives — would be linked with happiness and well-being.