More than 5,000 participants in a national Internet matchmaking service were surveyed to determine what kinds of people are most likely to lie during the online dating process. They were asked how likely they were to lie about topics such as assets, relationship goals, personal interests, personal attributes, past relationships, age and weight.
Those most likely to lie during online dating 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.
"What people lie about depends on what kind of people they are," University of Kansas communications professor Jeffrey 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."
In the study, men admitted to lying more overall, but women were most likely to lie about their weight. But 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 people are presenting a false impression of themselves," Hall said. "What influences face-to-face dating influences the online world, too."
Citation: Jeffrey A. Hall, Namkee Park, Hayeon Song, Michael J. Cody, 'Strategic misrepresentation in online dating: The effects of gender, self-monitoring, and personality traits', Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, March 2010, 27(1), 117-135; doi:10.1177/0265407509349633