The internet gives people a platform where they can present themselves in any way they want.
Whether this be highlighting amazing social skills or bigging-up professional successes, online dating can be a breeding ground for stretched truths and occasional outright lies intended to impress other singles.
And according to a new study, titled “An idealized self or the real me? Predicting attraction to online dating profiles using selective self-presentation and warranting” by Crystal D. Wotipka & Andrew C. High, online bragging could be hindering singles’ chances of getting a date.
In their report, Wotipka and High said: “Successful relationships, both face-to-face and online, hinge on positive first impressions.
“A dating profile is a venue where users work to establish favourable first impressions and attract potential partners.
“An appealing aspect of online dating sites is that they allow users to strategically choose aspects of their identity to present.
“The ability to customise a profile, however, makes it difficult to know how to best portray personal information, how that content will be perceived, and what viewers’ responses to profile content will be.”
To try and study this, the researchers showed 316 online daters different profiles and asked them what they thought about them.
The team wanted to specifically look at the effects of two concepts: selective-self presentation and warranting.
Selective self presentation (SSP) is defined as the way people set up their profiles to try and show the most flattering information about themselves to others.
This “bragging” could come from the photos they choose, or particular information they decide to include in their profiles.
The other concept is warranting, where singles can “warrant” their online dating profile by providing access to corroborating sites – whether a link to a professional biography page, name of a blog they contribute to, or an Instagram account, for example.
Bragging doesn’t help online daters
Wotipka and High decided to show the 316 participants different dating profiles that displayed both high and low levels of “selective self-presentation”, as well as high or low levels of “warranting”.
The researchers then analysed how the different levels affected both the social attraction and trust in the person whose profile it was, and how it influenced a profile viewer’s intention to contact and date the profile owner.
The authors found that viewers judged singles who were perceived as overly bragging about themselves, their looks, or their accomplishments, as less trustworthy and less socially attractive, and this made them less likely to want to date them.
Interestingly, including warranting factors, such as links to external sources of information like professional biography pages, increased trust in the information on the profile, but only with those who bragged less.
The best combination were profiles that had low selective self-presentation and high warranting, which made people “seem honest as well as humble and approachable.”
On the other hand, profiles exhibiting both high self-selective presentation and high warranting were perceived as arrogant or immodest.
In conclusion, the researchers said that “daters should strive to present themselves as humble, ‘real’ people”, especially if they were looking to succeed when online dating.
To find out more about the research report, which was published in the National Communication Association’s journal Communication Monographs, please click here.