Online daters behave similarly to those who meet face-to-face, researcher says

March 3, 2010

People who lie on online dating services likely are people-pleasers who want to present themselves in the most favorable light to get someone to like them — just as they would in face-to-face dating, according to a University of Kansas researcher.

Jeffrey Hall, assistant professor of communication studies, surveyed more than 5,000 participants in a national Internet matchmaking service to determine what kinds of people are most likely to lie during the online process. He asked them how likely they were to lie about topics such as assets, goals, personal interests, personal attributes, past relationships, age and weight.

"What people lie about depends on what kind of people they are," Hall said. "For example, if you're an extrovert, you might downplay the number of past relationships you've had because chances are you've had more relationships than an introvert."

Those most likely to lie during experiences are "high self-monitors" — people who have an acute sense of what people like and control their behavior to achieve social ends. Their actions are not necessarily manipulative, Hall said, but rather reflect a desire to be liked and to fit in.

Hall's research was published in the February issue of the Journal of Social and .

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In the study, men admitted to lying more overall, but women were most likely to lie about their weight. Because online daters hope to meet face-to-face eventually, the amount of lying is quite small, Hall said.

"Online daters shouldn't be concerned that most are presenting a false impression of themselves," Hall said. "What influences face-to-face dating influences the online world, too."

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