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Top Stories. Inat least 29 million Americans two out of five singles used an online dating service Gershberg, ; inon average, there were 40 million unique visitors to online dating sites each month in the U. CBC News, Ubiquitous access to the Internet, the diminished social stigma associated with online dating, and the affordable cost of Internet matchmaking services contribute to the increasingly common perception that online dating is a viable, efficient way to meet dating or long-term relationship partners St.
John, Although scholars working in a variety of academic disciplines have studied these earlier forms of mediated matchmaking e. Contemporary theoretical perspectives allow us to advance our understanding of how the age-old process of mate-finding is transformed through online strategies and behaviors. For instance, Social Information Processing SIP theory and other frameworks help illuminate computer-mediated communication CMCinterpersonal communication, and impression management processes.
This article focuses on the ways in which CMC interactants manage their online self-presentation and contributes to our knowledge of these processes by examining these issues in the naturalistic context of online dating, using qualitative data gathered from in-depth interviews with online dating participants. In contrast to a technologically deterministic perspective that focuses on the characteristics of the technologies themselves, or a socially deterministic approach that privileges user behavior, this article reflects a social shaping perspective.
Capacities are those cts of technology that enhance our ability to connect with one another, enact change, and so forth; constraints are those cts of technology that hinder our ability to achieve these goals.
Although the notion of circumvention is certainly not new to CMC researchers, this article seeks to highlight the importance of circumvention practices when studying the social cts of technology use.
These impression-management behaviors consist of expressions given communication in the traditional sense, e. Therefore, if participants aspire to an intimate relationship, their desire to feel understood by their interaction partners will motivate self-disclosures that are open and honest as opposed to deceptive.
This tension between authenticity and impression management is inherent in many cts of self-disclosure. Interactants in online environments experience these same pressures and desires, but the greater control over self-presentational behavior in CMC allows individuals to manage their online interactions more strategically. Due to the asynchronous nature of CMC, and the fact that CMC emphasizes verbal and linguistic cues over less controllable nonverbal communication cues, online self-presentation is more malleable and subject to self-censorship than face-to-face self-presentation Walther, A commonly accepted understanding of identity presumes that there are multiple cts of the self which are expressed or made salient in different contexts.
Bargh et al. The relative anonymity of online interactions and the lack of a shared social network online may allow individuals to reveal potentially negative cts of the self online Bargh et al. The online dating realm differs from other CMC environments in crucial ways that may affect self-presentational strategies.
An empirical study of online dating participants found that those who anticipated greater face-to-face interaction did feel that they were more open in their disclosures, and did not suppress negative cts of the self Gibbs et al. In addition, because the goal of many online dating participants is an intimate relationship, these individuals may be more motivated to engage in authentic self-disclosures. One site, True. The majority of online dating participants claim they are truthful Gibbs et al.
For instance, anticipation of face-to-face communication influences self-representation choices Walther, and self-disclosures because individuals will more closely monitor their disclosures as the perceived probability of future face-to-face interaction increases Berger, and will engage in more intentional or deliberate self-disclosure Gibbs et al.
Additionally, Hancock, Thom-Santelli, and Ritchie note that the design features of a medium may affect lying behaviors, and that the use of recorded media in which messages are archived in some fashion, such as an online dating profile will discourage lying.
Also, online dating participants are typically seeking a romantic partner, which may lower their motivation for misrepresentation compared to other online relationships.
Further, Cornwell and Lundgren found that individuals involved in online romantic relationships were more likely to engage in misrepresentation than those involved in face-to-face romantic relationships, but that this was directly related to the level of involvement. That is, respondents were less involved in their cyberspace relationships and therefore more likely to engage in misrepresentation.
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This lack of involvement is less likely in relationships started in an online dating forum, especially sites that promote marriage as a goal. Additionally, empirical data about the true extent of misrepresentation in this context is lacking. The current literature relies on self-reported data, and therefore offers only limited insight into the extent to which misrepresentation may be occurring. The potential for misrepresentation online, combined with the time and effort invested in face-to-face dates, make assessment strategies critical for online daters.
In short, online users become cognitive misers, forming impressions of others while conserving mental energy Wallace, For instance, individuals might use search engines to locate newsgroup postings by the person under scrutiny, knowing that this searching is covert and that the newsgroup postings most likely were authored without the realization that they would be archived Ramirez et al.
RQ: How do online dating participants manage their online presentation of self in order to accomplish the goal of finding a romantic partner?
In order to gain insight into this question, we interviewed online dating participants about their experiences, thoughts, and behaviors. The survey findings are reported in Gibbs et al. Our study addresses contemporary CMC theory using naturalistic observations. In their profiles, participants may include one or more photographs and a written open-ended description of themselves and their desired mate.
They also answer a battery of closed-ended questions, with preset category-based answers, about descriptors such as income, body type, religion, marital status, and alcohol usage. Users can conduct database searches that generate a list of profiles that match their desired parameters usually gender, sexual orientation, age, and location.
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Initial communication occurs through a double-blind email system, in which both email addresses are masked, and participants usually move from this medium to others as the relationship progresses.
We took an inductive approach based on general research questions informed by literature on online self-presentation and relationship formation rather than preset hypotheses. Interviews were semistructured to ensure that all participants were asked certain questions and to encourage participants to raise other issues they felt were relevant to the research. Are you trying to convey a certain impression of yourself with your profile? If you showed your profile to one of your close friends, what do you think their response would be?
Are there any personal characteristics that you avoided mentioning or tried to deemphasize? In theoretical sampling, cases are chosen based on theoretical developed a priori categories to provide examples of polar types, rather than for statistical generalizability to a larger population Eisenhardt, The Director of Market Research at Connect.
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Those members who did not respond within a week received a reminder email. Of those contacted, 76 people volunteered to participate in an interview. Out of these 76 volunteers, we selected and scheduled interviews with 36 although two were unable to participate due to scheduling issues. We focused exclusively on those seeking relationships with the opposite sex, as this group constitutes the majority of Connect.
We also confirmed that they were active participants in the site by ensuring that their last login date was within the past week and checking that each had a profile. Their online dating experience varied from 1 month to 5 years.
Although our goal was to sample a mix of participants who varied on key demographic criteria rather than generalizing to a larger population, our sample is in fact reflective of the demographic characteristics of the larger population of Connect. Thirty-four interviews were conducted in June and July Interviews were conducted by telephone, averaging 45 minutes and ranging from 30 to 90 minutes in length.
The interview database consisted of pages, includingwords, with an average of words per interview. All of the phone interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and checked for accuracy by the researcher who conducted the interview. The data analysis process consisted of systematic line-by-line coding of each transcript by the first two authors. Coding consisted of both factual codes e. New codes were added throughout the process, and then earlier transcripts were recoded to include these new conceptual categories.
All of the data were coded twice to ensure thoroughness and accuracy of codes. The researchers had frequent discussions in which they compared and refined coding categories and schemes to ensure consistency.
During the coding process, some codes were collapsed or removed when they appeared to be conceptually identical, while others were broken out into separate codes when further nuances among them became apparent. A total of 98 codes were generated by the first two authors as they coded the interviews.
Unitization was flexible in order to capture complete thought units. Codes were allowed to overlap Krippendorff, ; this method of assigning multiple codes to the same thought unit facilitated the process of identifying relationships between codes.
See Appendixes A and B for more information on codes. These interview data offer insight into the self-presentation strategies utilized by participants in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of online dating. These strategies are intimately connected to the specific characteristics of the online dating context: fewer cues, an increased ability to manage self-presentation, and the need to establish credibility. As suggested by SIP Walther,subtle cues such as misspellings in the online environment are important clues to identity for CMC interactants.
Many of the individuals we interviewed explicitly considered how others might interpret their profiles and carefully assessed the signals each small action or comment might send:.
I really analyzed the way I was going to present myself. The reason I put [the language] in there is because I had some experiences where I got together [with someone], we both really liked each other, and then it turned out that I was somebody who really liked sex and she was somebody that could take it or leave it. So I put that in there to sort of weed those people out.
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Participants spoke of the ways in which they incorporated feedback from others in order to shape their self-presentational messages. In some cases, they seemed genuinely surprised by the ways in which the digital medium allowed information to leak out. He said:.
This paper examines how disabled people construct self-identity and negotiate disclosure of impairment in the online dating environment. Grounded theory was used to code and analyze responses to an online open-ended questionnaire completed by disabled people who engaged in online dating. How COVID pandemic has changed the dating environment with work, socialisation, healthcare, and just general living as we know it. Welcome to the premier green dating site on the web - Green Personal Ads. As you know, online matchmaking has become the most reliable source for connecting singles that build lasting relationships. Here, you'll find the largest collection of green classifieds and personal ads, so you know that our members already share at least one of the.
In the course of [corresponding with others on the site] I became aware of how I had to present myself. Also, I became quite aware that I had to be very brief.
The site displayed the last time a user was active on the site, and this small cue was interpreted as a reliable indicator of availability. Overall, the mediated nature of these initial interactions meant that fewer cues were available, therefore amplifying the importance of those that remained. In a self-reflexive fashion, they applied these techniques to their own presentational messages, carefully scrutinizing both cues given such as photograph and, when possible, those perceived to be given off such as grammar.
Almost all of our participants reported that they attempted to represent themselves accurately in their profiles and interactions. Many expressed incomprehension as to why others with a shared goal of an offline romantic relationship would intentionally misrepresent themselves. At times, their need to portray a truthful, accurate self-representation was in tension with their natural inclination to project a version of self that was attractive, successful, and desirable.
One way in which participants reconciled their conflicting needs for positive self-presentation and accuracy was to create profiles that described a potential, future version of self. Christo1, Los Angeles Male.
Conscious Dating Network (CDN) is the oldest, largest, exclusively "Green/Eco-Friendly" and "Spiritual/Conscious" network of online dating sites with almost 20 years experience. Many of our sites are marketed by us, CDN, and by allowing third parties to market "Privately Labeled Sites" it leverages our marketing efforts and attracts more. Dating for Scientists is part of the dating network, which includes many other general dating sites. As a member of Dating for Scientists, your profile will automatically be shown on related general dating sites or to related users in the network at no additional charge. For . Jul 17, The online dating environment is different, however, because participants are typically seeking an intimate relationship and therefore desire agreement between others' online identity claims and offline identities. Online dating participants report that deception is the "main perceived disadvantage of online dating" (Brym & Lenton, , pCited by:
In two cases, individuals admitted to representing themselves as less heavy than they actually were. MaryMoon, Los Angeles Female. In this case, a later physical change neutralized the initial discursive deception.
For another participant, the profile served as an opportunity to envision and ideate a version of self that was future-focused and goal-oriented:.
Feb 06, Americans' opinions about the online dating environment By Monica Anderson, Emily A. Vogels and Erica Turner Online dating platforms have been scrutinized at times for the way they have contributed to dating culture and its safety, as well as how successful they are at .
I sort of thought about what is my ideal self. Because when you date, you present your best foot forward. I thought about all the qualities that I have, you know, even if I sometimes make mistakes and stuff. Marty7, Los Angeles Male.
Overall, participants did not see this as engaging in deceptive communication per se, but rather as presenting an idealized self or portraying personal qualities they intended to develop or enhance. In order to activate an online profile, participants had to complete a questionnaire with many closed-ended responses for descriptors such as age, body type, zip code, and income.
These answers became very important because they were the variables that others used to construct searches in order to narrow the vast pool of profiles. In fact, the front page of Connect. The structure of the search parameters encouraged some to alter information to fit into a wider range of search parameters, a circumvention behavior that guaranteed a wider audience for their profile.
Many of our participants recounted cases in which others freely and without embarrassment admitted that they had slightly misrepresented something in their profile, typically very early in the correspondence:.
For instance, one participant who misrepresented his age on his profile noted:. On the other hand, if I put X number of years, that is unattractive to certain people.
So if I say I am 44, people think that I am It blows. RealSweetheart, Bay Area Male. In the above cases, users engaged in misrepresentation triggered by the social norms of the environment and the structure of the search filters. The technical constraints of the site may have initiated a more subtle form of misrepresentation when participants were required to choose among a limited set of options, none of which described them sufficiently.
In addition to the cases in which misrepresentation was triggered by technical constraints or the tendency to present an idealized self, participants described a third branch of unintentional misrepresentation triggered by the limits of self-knowledge. People like to write about themselves.
This is how they really see themselves. KarieK, Bay Area Female. In explaining this phenomenon, KarieK used the metaphor of a mirror to emphasize the self-reflexive nature of the profile.
The difference might be overly positive which was typically the case or negative, as the below example illustrates.
A male participant explained:. So I then widened my scope [in terms of search parameters] and would go off the photographs. In their profiles and online interactions, they attempted to present a vision of self that was attractive, engaging, and worthy of pursuit, but realistic and honest enough that subsequent face-to-face meetings were not unpleasant or surprising.
The increased ability to engage in selective self-presentation, and the absence of visual cues in the online environment, meant that accuracy of self-presentation was a salient issue for our interviewees. In an environment in which there were limited outside confirmatory resources to draw upon, participants developed a set of rules for assessing others while incorporating these codes into their own self-presentational messages.
For example, one participant made sure that her profile photograph showed her standing up because she felt that sitting or leaning poses were a camouflage technique used by heavier people. This illustrates the recursive way in which participants developed rules for assessing others e. Profile photographs communicated not only what people looked like or claimed to look likebut also indicated the qualities they felt were important. For instance, one man with a doctorate included one photo of himself standing against a wall displaying his diplomas and another of him shirtless.
When asked about his choice of photos, he explained that he selected the shirtless photo because he was proud of being in shape and wanted to show it off. To summarize, our data suggest that participants were cognizant of the online setting and its association with deceptive communication practices, and therefore worked to present themselves as credible. In doing so, they drew upon the rules they had developed for assessing others and turned these practices into guidelines for their own self-presentational messages.
The primary goal of the online dating participants interviewed for this study was to find someone with whom they could establish a dating relationship although desired commitment level and type of relationship varied across participants.
Given this, they attempted to achieve their goals while contending with the unique characteristics of the online environment, engaging in strategies designed to circumvent the constraints of the online dating environment while exploiting its capacities. One constraint-the lack of nonverbal cues-meant that the task of interpreting the remaining cues became paramount in regards to both assessment of others and presentation of self.
Since the goal of most online dating participants was to identify and interact with potential romantic partners, individuals strove to highlight their positive attributes and capitalize on the greater perceived control over self-presentation inherent in the medium.
However, the future face-to-face interaction they anticipated meant that individuals had to balance their desire for self-promotion with their need for accurate self-presentation. In response to the risk of misrepresentation online, made possible by the selective self-presentation affordances of CMC, participants adopted various strategies to demonstrate the credibility of their identity claims, recursively applying the same techniques they employed to uncover representational ruses in others.
Our findings suggest that participants consistently engaged in creative workarounds circumvention strategies as they went through the process of posting a profile, selecting individuals to contact, and communicating with potential romantic partners.
Our data also highlight the recursive process by which some participants constructed rules of thumb for assessing others e. Previous laboratory studies of SIP have tended to focus on the manipulation of a subset of cues.
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Exploring the question of whether participants created a playful or fantastical identity online Stone, ; Turkle, or were more open and honest Rubin,we found that the online dating participants we spoke with claimed that they attempted to present an accurate self-representation online, a finding echoed in our survey data Gibbs et al. This study highlights the fact that creating an accurate online representation of self in this context is a complex and evolving process in which participants attempt to attract desirable partners while contending with constraints such as those posed by technological design and the limits of self-knowledge.
In some cases, the technical constraints of the site may have unintentionally enabled acts of misrepresentation, for instance when participants slightly altered information in situations in which they felt an arbitrary data point in age, for example would significantly harm their chances of being discovered by a potential mate.
Additionally, self-reported descriptions that use subjective terms e. In the case of online dating, it may be that the default settings in the search field i.
Across demographic groups, larger shares of Americans feel as if online dating has had neither a positive nor negative effect on dating and relationships, but personal experience with online dating also is associated with more positive views of its impact. These educational differences are present regardless of online dating use. The survey also asked an open-ended question to give respondents a chance to explain, in their own words, why they feel as if dating sites and apps have had a mostly positive or mostly negative effect on dating and relationships.
Cheaper than going on a date to find out the hard way. Easy to break the ice. Easy to size up people to see if you would like to really date them. Easier to identify what you have in common before you decide to pursue spending time together. Relatively small shares argue that online dating has had a mostly positive effect because it is a more efficient way of meeting people, is a better alternative to more traditional ways of meeting, helps people who have trouble meeting others or is a safer way of meeting people.
There is a stronger consensus among respondents who believe dating sites and apps have had a mostly negative effect. They lie about themselves to make themselves look good. No one is actually getting to really know each other. Communication is flawed from the beginning.
Overall, people who answer in this theme feel that online dating is generally just a bad way to meet people:. The slower process of meeting someone, the chase, maybe the game and the face-to-face learning about each other makes for deeper and lasting feelings. It makes you believe that there is always a better or easier option available.
I think that it is actually rather dangerous to meet complete strangers that way. Overall, Americans are somewhat divided on whether online dating is a safe way to meet someone.