Now that more and more singles are turning to online dating to meet prospective mates, scholars have become curious as to what makes a dating profile successful or unsuccessful, attractive or unattractive? Do the same factors that attract people in face-to-face encounters also apply online?
Researchers Crystal D. Wotipka and Andrew C. High at the University of Iowa asked 316 online daters what they thought of particular profiles. Their goal was to find out how specific types of content in online dating profiles affect viewers’ impressions of the profile owner. They also wanted to know what makes a person take the next step and contact a person of interest.
Their findings are published in the National Communication Association’s journal Communication Monographs.
For the study, participants were presented with one of four sample online dating profiles that exhibited different types of content. The researchers looked specifically at the effects of two concepts: selective-self presentation and warranting.
Selective self-presentation is people’s ability to highlight their most flattering qualities. In the context of online dating, where the goal is to attract a partner, people are motivated to present a lot of positive information about themselves while minimizing negative information — or in other words, to brag a little.
People can “warrant” their online dating profiles, explain the authors, by providing access to corroborating sites — for example, a link to a professional biography page or the name of a blog to which they regularly contribute.
The researchers investigated how online dating profiles that contain high or low selective self-presentation and high or low warranting align with impressions of social attraction and trust from profile viewers. Wotipka and High also analyzed whether impressions of trust and social attraction influenced a profile viewer’s intention to contact and date the profile owner.
The findings show that online daters judged people who bragged excessively about themselves, their looks, or their accomplishments as less trustworthy and less socially attractive, thereby lessening viewer’s intentions to date or contact those profile owners.
To develop profiles with high warranting value, the researchers included links to external sites that could support their identity, such as a link to a professional biography page maintained by the profile creator’s employer. This strategy helped viewers to verify content in a profile, which ultimately increased trust in the information on the profile, but only when people bragged less.
When combined, low selective self-presentation and high warranting made people “seem honest as well as humble and approachable,” wrote the authors. On the other hand, profiles exhibiting both high self-selective presentation and high warranting were viewed as arrogant or immodest, which lessened viewers’ intention to contact them. In other words, braggers don’t get dates.
“Daters should strive to present themselves as humble, ‘real’ people,” said the authors, especially if their goal is to establish a long-term relationship based on trust.
Source: Taylor & Francis