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.