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The study was funded by online-dating site e but was overseen by independent statisticians, Cacioppo says.

The results were also statistically controlled for marriage duration and other demographic factors such as education, he says.

If these two effects offset each other then we should observe in the data an ambiguous relationship between access to the Internet and divorce rates.

Couples who meet online and get married are slightly less likely to divorce than couples who first meet face-to-face, new research finds.

Independent statisticians oversaw the data, and e Harmony agreed that the results could be published regardless of how the data reflected on the website.

Online romance In their survey of 19,131 people (just one person from each married couple participated), Cacioppo and his colleagues found 92 percent were still married in 2012, 7.44 percent were separated or divorced and about 0.5 percent were widowed.

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Do a quick online search for the term “What causes divorce” and you will be greeted with a myriad of sites claiming to have the answer.

More than 5.7million people in the UK logged on to internet dating sites in September 2012 – a 22 per cent increase on the same month a year earlier, according to internet market research company com Score.

Of the approximately one-third of married couples who met online, 45 percent met on online dating sites (the most popular were e Harmony and Match.com, which were responsible for half of the dating-site matches).

Another 21 percent met on social networks, while the rest got to know each other from a mixture of blogs, gaming sites, chat rooms, discussion groups and other online communities.

The study, a generally representative look at American couples married between 20, found that virtual meetings are becoming more of a norm: More than a third of married couples in that time met on the Internet.

These couples tended to be happier in their relationships than couples who met offline, the researchers report this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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A popular claim is that online dating and social networking sites are major contributors to infidelity and divorce.

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