Business

Future dystopian dating kit for only $199 predicts lasting love from genetics

A new frontier in quantified self has arrived: measuring the genetic compatibility of young lovers. Canadian health startup, Instant Chemistry, is offering a couples kit that combines genetic matchmaking and psychological testing to predict the probability of long term relationships. So, if you love dystopian hyper-meritocratic societies based on genetic determinism, this will be a $199 well spent.

“Imagine that your relationship problems are actually in your genes,” says “Dr.” Wendy Walsh in Instant Chemistry’s promo video below:

Aside from the obvious preying on fragile relationships, Instant Chemistry does have some tangential connection to scientific research.

For instance, one research study found that the composition of genetics within a group of heterosexual couples predicted whether the “women’s sexual responsivity to their partners decreased, their number of extra-pair sexual partners increased, and their attraction to men other than their primary partners increased, particularly during the fertile phase of their cycles” [PDF].

Before expensive genetic tests, some scientists believe that kissing was the more natural way to sense genetic compatibility. Indeed, the ability to smell genetic compatibility is why some scientists recommend that women go off birth control before marriage, since hormones can affect who they are attracted to.

The science of these kinds of genetic matching products have their critics. “They are just trying to make a buck,” said Dr. Racio Moral of the Cleveland Clinic. “That if it’s genetic, it must be real science.”

So, to augment the less-than-perfect DNA test, Instant Chemistry adds an additional test of traits associated with successful couples. Emotional and psychological tests have long been a tool in the online dating arsenal, recommending matches based on traits that correlate well with lasting love.

Unfortunately, the science of trait-matching isn’t quite there yet. “We might compare the understanding and prediction of romantic outcomes to attempts to understand and predict the stock market,” explained one blistering critique of online matchmaking algorithms. “Although economists know a great deal about how the stock market behaves and why, attempts to predict the behavior of the market at a specific point in the future have limited accuracy.”

Instant Chemistry seems to be aware of the mediocre predictability of match-making tests. “There’s a huge amount of unpredictability when you meet someone and you’re trying to determine whether you have chemistry or not,” explained co-founder Ron Gonzalez. “If we can reduce that unpredictability even by 20 percent, that’s a huge saving of your time and effort while you’re trying to find a partner.”

It’s hard to say what a “20%” reduction in unpredictability means to existing couples. Underlying genetic incompatibility could be causing issues for struggling couples. But, the reason we marry today is far different than the reason we chose to procreate tens of thousands of years ago. We’re not just looking for offspring that can survive a harsh winter. We’re looking for a family structure that can survive in a 21st century capitalist economy.

So, even if there’s some primal instinct between two people not to get married, it doesn’t make the primal instinct reasonable for modern living.

There’s a lot of pseudoscience wrapped up in this product. But, if you’re desperate for a solution to your relationship ills, you can learn more on Instant Chemistry’s website.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile app analytics. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.
8 comments
Nikolaus Heger
Nikolaus Heger

Pseudo science or not, the main fallacy is treating love as a quantifiable property in the first place. If you think big data can help your relationships you need help...

Aung Thiha
Aung Thiha

Nope, maybe genetic factors alone may not be enough for deciding this whole thing. There are certainly other variables that need to test. But match-making is nothing but unpredictable, with enough data points. It is just a data science problem, just like how amazon and google predict what you will buy next.

Ron Gonzalez
Ron Gonzalez

Josye,

We are trying to push technology out of the lab and put it into practice. We do not claim that genes determine who you will fall in love with. That is the spin taken from the article. In fact, we are actually applying a combination of genetics and psychology to give our clients an added layer of information about their prospective matches that is based on peer reviewed science. In addition, we do our own research. For example, much of the research listed below is based on heterosexual couples. We are currently conducting a study with help from the LGBTQ community because science should not discriminate based on sexual orientation. I understand your concerns, but this is not GATTACA. This is the early application of science into an industry largely based on the art of matchmaking.

Josye L
Josye L

Genetic determinism is a still fiercely defended DOGMA of the medical industry, it has very little relationship to sound science. This dogma helps the medical business to sell their profitable medical interventions. Take mammography, which revolves around this dogma, specifically the idea of universal, linear cancer progression (discussed in: The Mammogram Myth by Rolf Hefti). Dr. Racio Moral's statement is right on: "They are just trying to make a buck." And this sound bite is just an advertisement for it.

Adam Beckett
Adam Beckett

You could clone yourself and fall in love again and again...?

Joshua Darlington
Joshua Darlington

makes sense to me. genetic data mining to create agent based models could be useful for simulating a lot of critical interactions.

Callum MacKendrick
Callum MacKendrick

If you think it's a joke maybe you shouldn't post it as news. Or is VB going the way of the Onion, officially this time?

Ron Gonzalez
Ron Gonzalez

Dear Gregory,


We thank you for your interest in Instant Chemistry.


Here is an abbreviated list of peer-reviewed scientific studies which may be of interest for your readers.  In addition, your readers should know that the DNA test kit is FREE for singles when they sign up with  our partner at www.singldout.com.  Couples, pay $199/kit if they want to do the test. We appreciate your interest and we would be pleased to discuss this further with you if you would like to learn more.


The Instant Chemistry Team



Selected Scientific Publications:

 [1] R. Laurent, B. Toupance, R. Chaix, Non-random mate choice in humans: insights from a genome scan. Mol Ecol. 21 (2012) 587-596.


 [2] R. Laurent, R. Chaix, MHC-dependent mate choice in humans: why genomic patterns from the HapMap European American dataset support the hypothesis. Bioessays. 34 (2012) 267-271.


[3] R. Laurent, R. Chaix, HapMap European American genotypes are compatible with the hypothesis of MHC-dependent mate choice (response to DOI 10.1002/bies.201200023, Derti and Roth). Bioessays. 34 (2012) 871-872.


[4] R. Chaix, C. Cao, P. Donnelly, Is mate choice in humans MHC-dependent? PLoS Genet. 4 (2008) e1000184.


[5] C.E. Garver-Apgar, S.W. Gangestad, R. Thornhill, R.D. Miller, J.J. Olp, Major histocompatibility complex alleles, sexual responsivity, and unfaithfulness in romantic couples. Psychol Sci. 17 (2006) 830-835.


[6] P.S. Santos, J.A. Schinemann, J. Gabardo, G. Bicalho Mda, New evidence that the MHC influences odor perception in humans: a study with 58 Southern Brazilian students. Horm Behav. 47 (2005) 384-388.


[7] H. Beydoun, A.F. Saftlas, Association of human leucocyte antigen sharing with recurrent spontaneous abortions. Tissue Antigens. 65 (2005) 123-135.


[8] S.W. Gangestad, J.A. Simpson, A.J. Cousins, C.E. Garver-Apgar, P.N. Christensen, Women's preferences for male behavioral displays change across the menstrual cycle. Psychol Sci. 15 (2004) 203-207.


[9] R. Thornhill, S.W. Gangestad, R. Miller, G. Scheyd, J.K. McCollough, M. Franklina, Major Histocompatibility complex genes, symmetry, and body scent attractiveness in men and women. Behavioral Ecology. 14 (2003) 668-678.


[10] S. Jacob, M.K. McClintock, B. Zelano, C. Ober, Paternally inherited HLA alleles are associated with women's choice of male odor. Nat Genet. 30 (2002) 175-179.


[11] C. Wedekind, D. Penn, MHC genes, body odours, and odour preferences. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 15 (2000) 1269-1271.


[12] D. Penn, W. Potts, How do major histocompatibility complex genes influence odor and mating preferences? Adv Immunol. 69 (1998) 411-436.


[13] C. Ober, T. Hyslop, S. Elias, L.R. Weitkamp, W.W. Hauck, Human leukocyte antigen matching and fetal loss: results of a 10 year prospective study. Hum Reprod. 13 (1998) 33-38.


[14] C. Ober, L.R. Weitkamp, N. Cox, H. Dytch, D. Kostyu, S. Elias, HLA and mate choice in humans. Am J Hum Genet. 61 (1997) 497-504.


[15] C. Wedekind, T. Seebeck, F. Bettens, A.J. Paepke, MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Proc Biol Sci. 260 (1995) 245-249.


[16] C. Wedekind, Mate choice and maternal selection for specific parasite resistances before; during and after fertilization. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 346 (1994) 303-311.


[17] M.F. Reznikoff-Etievant, J.C. Bonneau, D. Alcalay, B. Cavelier, C. Toure, R. Lobet, et al., HLA antigen-sharing in couples with repeated spontaneous abortions and the birthweight of babies in successful pregnancies. Am J Reprod Immunol. 25 (1991) 25-27.


[18] C.L. Ober, A.O. Martin, J.L. Simpson, W.W. Hauck, D.B. Amos, D.D. Kostyu, et al., Shared HLA antigens and reproductive performance among Hutterites. Am J Hum Genet. 35 (1983) 994-1004.