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Online Daters Do Not Lie About Themselves

March 22, 2010

People who tell lies during online dating are probably people pleasers who want to present themselves in the best light, both online and offline, according to a new research by the University of Kansas professor.

The study also found that when fibs do happen, both women and men turn out to be equally guilty. In a survey of more than 5,000 American individuals who use an online dating service on a regular basis in a hope for a long-term relationship, Jeffrey Hall, an assistant professor in the department of communication studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, found that online daters are no more likely to lie about themselves when compared to those who date face-to-face, in particular because they hope to meet in person someday.

More than 80 per cent of the study participants were white, with an average age of 40 years old, and approximately seventy five per cent were female. More than half reported being single and had never been married before, while just more than 40 per cent reported that they were divorced. A little more than two-thirds said that they were not involved in a romantic relationship at a present time.

After demographic data was collected, the experts asked the study subjects how likely they would be to lie about themselves during online dating with respect to their personal qualities, expectations from a relationship, personal interests, personal assets, and previous relationships. The investigators also evaluated the participants in terms of how extroverted, conscientious, neurotic, open, or agreeable they were.

In addition to that, the online daters were asked to fill out an appropriate questionnaire so the experts were able to determine to what degree the subjects were capable of putting on a "social performance" and/or changing their behavior during in-person encounters, simply to suit particular people and changing circumstances.

According to the results, most respondents in the survey indicated that they would rather not lie. But those who reported that they were most likely to lie generally responded to other questions indicating that they were people pleasers, or "high self-monitors." Such individuals are known to have an acute sense of what other people like or don't like and control their own behavior accordingly for social ends. Mr. Hall explained that because these individuals want to be liked and fit in, they, whether online or offline, may want to hide the truth about weight, age, salary and interests, in general.

It was also revealed that in the study, men confessed to lying more in every category except weight. However, due to the fact that people who use online dating services hope to meet eventually in person, the amount of lying in both men and women was quite small, Hall said. For instance, men led women 2.01 to 1.83 in lying about education and income, and as to women - they led men 3.24 to 2.37 when it came to lying about weight. "Online daters should not be concerned that most people are presenting a false impression of themselves," the experts said, and added that what has an influence on in-person dating influences the online world as well.

The findings were reported in the March 8 issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Tags: Dating