Washington: People who are looking for love online are less likely to trust a person with a flashy profile, preferring instead a potential partner who appears not only successful, but humble and real as well, a new study has found.
"We found people want to contact a person who appears to be accurate in what they are saying about themselves online," said 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 alsohopefully will have a relationship with this individual, so we want them to exist," High said.
High and Crystal Wotipka, lead author of the study and graduate teaching assistant in the UI's Department of Communication Studies, wanted to know how people who use online dating sites respond to different ways people present themselves online.
Researchers found most people were drawn to individuals whose profiles were positive but not over-the-top glowing.
Study participants preferred people whose online person 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, researchers said.
For the study, researchers 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.
The profiles were created in a template from OKCupid - a free, online dating service and 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.
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.
It was the low SSP and high warranting that ended up being most popular, researchers said.
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," researchers said.