dating app issues

Online Daters Look for ‘Real’ Partners

A study from the University of Iowa has determined a new addition to dating app issues: people using online dating services are looking for a partner who appears successful, but is also humble and real. University of Iowa investigators found that online daters are less likely to trust a person with a flashy and/or perfect profile.

Keep reading to learn more about this study and how your dating app profile may be negatively affecting your dating life.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

“We found people want to contact a person who appears to be accurate in what they are saying about themselves online,” said Dr. Andy High, assistant professor in the University of Iowa’s Department of Communication Studies and corresponding author of the study.

“It’s tough when it comes to dating profiles because we want someone who seems like an amazing person, but we also hopefully will have a relationship with this individual, so we want them to exist.”

As of 2020, 44.2 million Americans are using online dating services, and this is expected to increase to 53.3 million by 2025.

Dating App Issues & User Preferences

Dr. High and graduate student Crystal Wotipka, lead author of the study, wanted to know how people who use these sites respond to different ways people present themselves online. What the team discovered is that most people were drawn to individuals whose profiles were positive but not over-the-top glowing.

More important, however, participants preferred people whose online persona could be clearly traced to a real person. That means people want details, not broad generalities, especially about where a prospective love interest works and what he or she does for a living.

“Instead of just saying, ‘I write a blog,’ name the blog and encourage people to check it out,” High said. “If you work for a company, name the company… If you can name something or provide people with a link to get there, then do it. The idea is the viewer will think this is a real person,” he said.

High and Wotipka presented their preliminary findings in November 2014 at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association.

In today’s environment, personal profiles are not just for romantic pursuits. Online profiles are used for networking, advancement, and business opportunities. LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking service shares the profile of more than 332 million participants.

High said previous research on online dating has focused on how people present themselves in their profiles. Those studies found that some people tend to exaggerate or lie about themselves and their accomplishments. High and Wotipka took a different tactic in this study, studying online dating from the point of view of the person sorting through the profiles.

“We wondered, ‘What do people like in a dating profile?’” Wotipka said. “‘Whom are they most likely to contact? Whom are they most interested in meeting?’”

The Method

To do this, they created eight online dating profiles — four men and four women — with various combinations of two perspectives.

One perspective is called “Selective Self-Presentation,” or what the researchers refer to as SSP, which is a profile that highlights only what’s “good” about a person and downplays the rest. The other is called “Warranting,” which is a profile that contains information easily traced to a real person. Once the profiles were created in a template from OKCupid — a free, online dating service — they were shown to 317 adults who said they were using or had used an online dating service. There were 150 men and 167 women, and the mean age was 40.

Participants were asked to judge the profiles and decide which ones they would contact.

Researchers expected that profiles that were presented with high selective self-presentation (those who sounded perfect) and high warranting (those who provided specifics that could be traced to a real person) would be the most popular. They were wrong.

“I thought people would think, ‘Not only is this person the greatest in the world, but they’re real, too. Wow!’ but I was wrong,” Wotipka said. “It was the low SSP” and high warranting “that ended up winning out.”

In other words, people were turned off by profiles that sounded too good to be true. This was especially true for viewers who said they preferred online social interaction. Researchers found the more specific information a profile contained that could be traced to a real person, the more the viewer trusted the profile.

“Users of online dating sites are aware that people misrepresent themselves, and inaccurate profiles are one of the biggest drawbacks to using online dating sites,” the study said.

High says the key to creating an attractive online dating profile is balance. “You want to balance all that is wonderful about yourself with some things that aren’t negative, but more humble or realistic about yourself. It’s important to put your best foot forward,” he said, “but maybe not in your best pair of shoes.”

Couples Counseling in Orange County

If you’ve already gone through the trouble of dating app issues and all that entails, and are now in a relationship with its own set of issues, couples counseling in Orange County maybe be able to help you.

Jennifer De Francisco, MPA, MSW, LCSW is a couples counselor in Newport Beach, Irvine, and Orange County. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call her office at (949) 251-8797 or make an appointment online.

Study source: University of Iowa

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