Do online daters lie?

08Feb12

TRUTHFULLNESS

 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/fashion/online-dating-as-scientific-research.html?pagewanted=all

 

If you are curious about numbers: about 81 percent of people misrepresent their height, weight or age in their profiles, according to a study led by Catalina L. Toma, an assistant professor in the department of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who wanted to learn more about how people present themselves and how they judge misrepresentation. On the bright side: people tend to tell small lies because, after all, they may eventually meet in person.

Professor Toma; Jeffrey T. Hancock, an associate professor at Cornell; and Nicole B. Ellison, an associate professor in the department of telecommunication, information studies and media at Michigan State University, interviewed online daters in New York City, weighed and measured them, photographed them, checked their ages against their driver’s licenses and studied their dating profiles.

On average, the women described themselves as 8.5 pounds thinner in their profiles than they really were. Men fibbed by 2 pounds, though they lied by a greater magnitude than women about their height, rounding up a half inch (apparently every bit counts).

People were most honest about their age, something Professor Toma said is probably because they can claim ignorance about weight and height. Even so, in a different study she found that women’s profile photographs were on average a year and a half old. Men’s were on average six months old.

“Daters lie to meet the expectations of what they think their audience is,” Professor Toma said.

A paper to be published in the Journal of Communication used computer analysis to show that four linguistic indictors can help detect lying in the personal essay of a dating profile.

Liars tend to use fewer first-person pronouns. Professor Toma said this is an indication of psychological distancing: “You’re feeling guilty or anxious or nervous.” Liars use more negative words like “not” and “never,” yet another way of putting up a buffer. Liars use fewer negative emotion words like “sad” and “upset,” and they write shorter online personal essays. (It’s easier not to get caught if you say less.)

Scholars say a certain amount of fibbing is socially acceptable — even necessary — to compete in the online dating culture. Professor Ellison’s research shows that lying is partly a result of tension between the desire to be truthful and the desire to put one’s best face forward. So profiles often describe an idealized self; one with qualities they intend to develop (i.e., “I scuba dive”) or things they once had (i.e., a job). Some daters bend the truth to fit into a wider range of search parameters; others unintentionally misrepresent their personalities because self-knowledge is imperfect.

The standard of embellishment can frustrate the honest. “So if I say I am 44, people think that I am 48,” said one man interviewed by Professor Ellison and colleagues in a separate study.

But there is an upside to deception: it may inspire one to, as Professor Ellison put it, “close the gap between actual and ideal self.” One interviewee lied about her weight in her profile, and it was all the motivation she needed. She subsequently lost 44 pounds while online dating.

 

 

Al Bagocius
The A & I Consulting Group
Creative Packaging Solutions
9838 Old Baymeadows Road # 387
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Voice Mail: 904.553.9539
www.aicreativepackaging.com
e-mail @ bagociusar@aol.com
LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/albagocius
blog @ https://albagocius.wordpress.com
“We Package Your Message!”
 
Al Bagocius 
 


No Responses Yet to “Do online daters lie?”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: