Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Married at First Sight

By Michael Cook

Reality TV has added a fresh perspective to the bioethical debate about the use of love drugs.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In the United States and Denmark, a reality TV show called Married at First Sight has been an unexpected hit. In what the production company bills as “an extreme social experiment”, three couples meet their spouses for the very first time when they walk down the aisle on their wedding day.

After being legally married with splendid gowns and lots of confetti, they have 1 month to decide whether they will continue or file for divorce.

Risky? Of course – otherwise it would hardly be “compelling watching”. But the producers say that a sexologist, a spiritualist, a psychologist and a sociologist have studied the bride and groom to give them the best possible match.

After the first American season, two couples were still together. The third couple split up: the sexual chemistry was there, but the relationship foundered on his lack of generosity.

Who would ever volunteer for such an experiment? Apparently people battered by unhappy childhoods and bruised by past relationship failures. Perhaps the producers’ promise of constant counselling gave them a last glimmer of hope.

All of which is an introduction to an idea floated by bio­ethicist Julian Savulescu and two of his colleagues at Oxford University, Brian D. Earp and Anders Sandberg. Their recent article in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics makes the case for latter-day love...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.