By: Kathy Makiver
Do you believe how people present themselves in the online dating world or do you doubt that they are being truthful?
The dating scene has changed significantly in the past few years with a dramatic shift in the perception of online dating. It is now more acceptable to meet a partner online and most of us even know someone who is in a successful relationship as a result of online dating. However, deceptive behavior is becoming more common online since information can easily be changed and manipulated in the digital world. Online dating profiles usually contain photographs and text designed to emphasize personal data, including physical description, interests, and preferences. We have the freedom to represent ourselves on the internet in a way that we wish to be seen. Many people feel pressure to alter their profile and picture(s) to present what they perceive to be their ideal self in order to increase their attractiveness and marketability.
An article called Contradictory Deceptive Behavior in Online Dating suggests that many online daters resort to lying about themselves online. According to research by authors Lo, Hsieh and Chiu, physical attractiveness is the most prominent variable in attracting others. Online daters usually pursue others who are attractive because they are thought to have better social skills, more confidence, and appear to be more trustworthy and kind. Since appearance influences behavior in online interactions, they want to become acquainted with attractive people because it stimulates their positive emotions. The halo effect is an important concept in forming attitudes about others. It is the tendency to use a characteristic (such as attractiveness) to determine certain personality traits (such as outgoing). This happens unconsciously and we are unaware of the bias we develop simply based on a person’s looks.
Physical interaction is absent online so users usually review a photograph and make an assumption in .05 seconds of the person they are viewing. 86% of people feel that photos are misrepresented and once they suspect that a picture is not authentic, they may not believe the text based profile. Attractive daters are the first to be contacted and to establish a social bond so some people use deception on their profiles to make a good impression on them. One of the experiments in the study focused on the behavior and perception of participants whose age ranged from 20-26 years old. They were asked to actively send personal information to a specific person (with either low or high physical attractiveness) to ask for a date. The results showed that when online daters met physically attractive daters of the opposite sex, the user’s self-presentation deception level was much higher than when meeting a person with low physical attractiveness.
In many ways, online dating is similar to online marketing especially with respect to the human to human interaction. There are many factors that influence behavior including cultural and social factors. People need a sense of belonging and social interaction so they are motivated by this. Online dating sites are marketing the pursuit of a perfect match through unique personality and character tests which intrigue people. There is a need to promote a brand, which is self-promotion in terms of a profile and photograph. Creative marketing techniques are needed to promote yourself. A target market needs to be determined so you are not focusing on everyone online. Next, you need to make sure that you are marketing yourself on the right platform, using the right tools and strategies to reach your audience. You can specify your demographics and preferences in order to filter the data. Finally, you should market a short, authentic message with selective wording. These techniques will help you to meet your expectations and goals in the online dating world.
Chiu, Y., Hsieh, A. Lo, S. (2013). Contradictory Behavior in Online Dating. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1755-1762.
D’Costa, Krystal. “Catfishing: The Truth about Deception Online.” Scientific American Blog Network. Nature America, 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.
Hodge, Greg. “The Ugly Truth of Online Dating: Top 10 Lies Told by Internet Daters.” The HuffingtonPost. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.