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Online Dating as Honest as Real Life
Date:3/11/2010

re going to make their pictures better and their profile more exciting," noted Hall. "By comparison, low self-monitors are going to present themselves exactly as they are in all circumstance -- in person and online."

Being a neurotic personality seemed to have no bearing one way or the other on honesty in online dating, the team found.

Demographics also played a role in online deception. Not surprisingly, older online daters were more likely to lie about their age than younger daters, and men were more likely to shave years off their age than women.

Overall, however, "we found that the differences between men and women online were very small," Hall stressed.

"Yes, we did find that women were more likely to misrepresent their weight," he added. "And men were more likely to misrepresent their personal interests, and more likely to misrepresent personal assets like job and money and personal attributes, like how nice and polite they are. But these latter differences were really very small."

Hall stressed, however, that levels of online deception might change depending on the context.

"The survey was about people more interested in establishing a single romantic relationship," he noted. "But there are sites that are exclusively dedicated to the hook-up -- the short-term, casual sex experience. And in that case, you don't really need to present yourself in a fully authentic way, because the purpose is just to enjoy yourself in a one-night stand. And a survey of that kind of online group might find very different results."

Eli Finkel, an associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said the study results came as little surprise.

"These findings lend empirical validation to my longstanding assumption that the typical person using modern dating approaches doesn't differ much from the typical person using traditional dating approaches," he said.

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