The lab photos were only a little less attractive than those chosen for online dating profiles (about 5% for women and 4% for men). Clues to which types of profile photos work come from one online dating site which has analysed 7,000 photographs in its database (oktrends, 2010): (Remember, these are all associations so we can’t be sure about causality.) Even amongst a diverse population of online daters, people still prefer someone who is similar to themselves.When Fiore and Donath (2005) examined data from 65,000 online daters, they found that people were choosing based on similarity to themselves.People aren’t using online dating because they are shy but because they have moved to a new city, are working long hours or don’t have time to meet anyone new.Although 94% deny their internet dating profiles contain any fibs (Gibbs et al., 2006), psychologists are a suspicious lot. (2008) measured the heights and weights of 80 internet daters, as well as checking their driving licences for their real age.This study also looked at the impact of self-disclosure.While the results were more variable, overall people preferred relatively low-levels of self-disclosure.These lies make little difference in the real world because the vast majority of fibbing would have been difficult to detect in person.Most people want to meet up eventually so they know big lies are going to be caught. Even without Photoshop to iron out the wrinkles, camera angles and lighting can easily change perceived attractiveness.
But, over the years, we’ve heard conflicting stories about how successful it is.
Daters were more truthful about their age (1.5% deviation) and height (1.1% deviation).
As expected women tended to shave off the pounds, while men gave themselves a boost in height.
Contrary to the stereotype, there’s little evidence that internet dating is the last resort of social misfits or weirdos. Internet daters are more likely to be sociable, have high self-esteem and be low in dating anxiety (Kim et al., 2009; Valkenburg, 2007).
These studies found no evidence that people use online dating because they can’t hack it face-to-face. People’s motivations to start online dating are many and various, typically involving a triggering event like a break-up, but overall Barraket and Henry-Waring (2008) have found that people’s motivations are less individual and more social.