Honesty on online dating sites
Online communication has become an integral part of most of our lives, and yet many people continue to view those they meet on the Internet with suspicion.They imagine that online forums are filled with sexual predators and people using false identities. Online interactions vary in terms of two major questions: (1) What venues are we using to communicate, and, (2) What are we lying about?
In general, , people are more likely to lie when looking for a date than in other social situations (Rowatt et al., 1999).So the lies we tell online have the potential to be far more all-encompassing than anything we could get away with in person.Despite that, most online lies, like most offline lies, are subtle, representing people’s attempts to portray themselves in the best possible light, with slight exaggerations (Zimbler & Feldman, 2011).The second issue—what individuals are most likely to lie about—can be divided into several categories, including physical appearance, education, relationship or job status, and issues related to personality traits and interests.When we might be especially honest Surprisingly, people can sometimes be more authentic online than offline in the way they express their personality.One survey of over 5,000 users of online dating sites asked them to rate, on a 10-point scale, how likely they were to misrepresent themselves in areas such as appearance and job information (Hall et al., 2010).
The average rating on these items was about 2, indicating a relatively low level of deception overall. They're especially likely to be dishonest in how they describe their physical appearance.
In an earlier post, I discussed how people involved in online relationships can develop intense bonds due to the unique ability for the anonymity and control provided by online interactions to enable expression of the “true self”: traits that a person possesses, but does not normally feel comfortable expressing to others.
Research has shown that when we chat online, even briefly, these normally hidden traits become more cognitively accessible to us and we actually do succeed in expressing them to others (Bargh et al., 2002).
In one study asking undergraduates to communicate with a stranger in a lab for 15 minutes, it was found that the students were more likely to misrepresent themselves online than face-to-face (Zimbler & Feldman, 2011).
But these researchers defined misrepresentation quite broadly, where subjects reviewing transcripts of their conversations were encouraged to label their statements as false if the statements could be perceived as inaccurate or if the subjects weren’t sure if they were accurate.
Those who are introverted or high in social anxiety are especially likely to be normally show to others offline (Amichai-Hamburger et al., 2002; Mc Kenna et al., 2002).