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The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating,About the Author

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According to Gibbs et al , over ten million Americans have a profile on at least one dating website p. Internationally, Match. com has over twelve-million members Gibbs, , p. This new technological landscape of communication poses both risks and opportunities for the user who is looking to find a potential mate. Moreover, communication over the internet also offers great research opportunities regarding whether traditional studies of communication among humans applies in this online context.

One such theory, Uncertainty Reduction Theory URT , predicted that there are seven factors in human exchange and three basic, yet essential, strategies that humans utilize in reducing anxiety when meeting another person Twente, N.

While the implementation of social networking and dating sites have changed the way in which we communicate with one another, the rules of social interaction according to URT still apply, albeit in different contexts.

Firstly, it is important to define relevant terms and premises that will aid our discussion. com or E-Mail. Face to Face hereafter referred to as FtF interaction is the traditional face to face interaction that exists among humans where visual cues are present. A critical premise of our discussion is that people who use online dating sites via CMC are using it in the hope that it will lead to eventual FtF communication.

Another important term will be self-monitor. The concept of being a self-monitor will be integral in our discussion of online dating because the information we choose to display online is usually highly selective and for the purpose of attracting a mate for a FtF interaction. Finally, URT will refer to the classic theory by Berger that theorized that humans use specific strategies and cues before divulging more personal information p. URT will be discussed more thoroughly later in the paper.

In our discussion, it is important to review relevant literature regarding technology, use of social media and relationships , communication and online dating in general. Firstly, we will discuss the original theories regarding FtF communication as outlined in URT. Berger and Calabrese , Dawkins, and Gibbs et al, will give relevant background information and details. Moreover, Twente N. will outline the specific strategies and factors that influence human behavior regarding reducing uncertainty.

Gudykunst will also discuss how URT applies within the contexts of different ethnicities and sex. This will allow us to get comprehensive background information. Next, it is important to have a basic understanding of how CMC developed and the early schools of thought that analyzed this interaction Parks, While highly pessimistic, Parks offered evidence that online relationships can not only be successful, but can develop into eventual FtF interaction.

Sheldon will show that interaction on Facebook offers a wealth of information regarding how we deal with uncertainty within a network where we tend to know most of the individuals in person, or have at least met them on one occasion.

Also, Sheldon will demonstrate that individuals in SNS use specific cues and elements of interaction alongside strategies of URT to predict their behavior.

Finally, we will investigate how online dating sites like eHarmony integrate scientific principles of communication and how well they apply to URT. A general view of the process of meeting individuals and how communication is facilitated will be offered by the eHarmony website eHarmony, N. This will allow us to analyze exactly how applicable URT is to CMC settings and how well the dating service tailors to the different context of communication. Furthermore, we will look at case studies specific to online dating sites like Match.

com and eHarmony. Gibbs will provide an in-depth study of Match. com members to show that in an online setting, members tend to practice similar uncertainty reduction strategies in anticipation of a FtF meeting. Specifically, what strategies are mostly utilized and what cues are critical to the overall interaction. In meeting new people FtF, we tend to engage in behaviors that reduce our uncertainty about the other person.

This original URT was supplemented by Berger by including that humans tend to reduce uncertainty by utilizing one or all of the three strategies: passive, active and interactive Dawkins, , p. Of the strategies listed, observing others where the person is likely to act natural is passive while being in direct contact with them is active Twente, N.

An interactive strategy, however, includes communicating with the person directly in an effort to find out more about the person. The interactive strategy of engaging in information seeking behavior is by far the most important aspect of reducing uncertainty.

This means that as we meet new people, we want to find out more about them to reduce our uncertainty about them. However, studies suggest that we are also hesitant to divulge personal information about ourselves so easily. This means that as we are looking for information about others, we tend to only divulge information at the same rate as other people do in FtF communication.

This would make sense as we tend to fear judgment by other people that we do not know as well. There also exist some demographic differences in URT. According to William Gudykunst and Mitchell Hammer in The Influence of Ethnicity, Gender, and Dyadic Composition on Uncertainty Reduction In Initial Interactions, there were differences among blacks and whites in their communicative behavior.

Moreover, their results did not suggest that gender played a role in using uncertainty reduction strategies Gudykunst, , p.

This means that men and women tend to act similarly in reducing uncertainty in social situations. Essentially, the URT strategy of information seeking was higher in those that were more self-conscious of their behavior. Other than that, ethnicity and gender did not affect URT in the FtF context that the study was researched within.

Next, it is important to understand the early schools of thought and development of online communication. His literature review argued that this was true because people within CMC settings exert more verbal aggression, blunt disclosure and negative behavior in comparison to groups in FtF settings Parks, , p. Despite the negative feedback from other scholars, Parks found evidence that online relationships can develop and people can adapt their behavior to account for the missing aspects of interaction, like physical proximity and frequency.

For instance, even in early as , Parks argued that online settings can foster the growth of meaningful relationships, despite the shortcomings of missing cues in FtF communication. Even more surprising is the notion that the relationships that developed online tended to expand to FtF communication over time:. Although nearly all respondents used direct E-mail About a third had used the telephone The average number of channels used was 2.

These findings imply that relationships that begin on line rarely stay there Parks, , p. This research implies that even as early in , the internet and CMC did foster the development of new relationships that eventually extended out of the scope of online interaction. This had a lot to do with how users managed uncertainty with the tools they had.

Since visual and aural cues were not always present, the use of smileys and other improvised cues were used to develop rapport with other individuals Parks, , p. Essentially, the way that people communicated online in involved an adaptation of visual cues to textual ones. By , the growth of online dating sites resulted in services that were tailored specifically to meet the needs to people looking to find relationships online. These services were designed to facilitate, foster and encourage the growth of successful relations that extended outside of CMC.

Her study of college students suggested that URT did apply cohesively in this CMC setting: users who interacted a lot tended to experience less uncertainty Sheldon, , p.

Indeed, from to , not much has changed in terms of what is possible within the realm of CMC. While users can share photos, videos and other forms of multimedia, the factors of proximity and physical cues are still not there. Essentially, CMC settings are successful in fostering relationships because visual cues are not requirements of interaction and when they are necessary, textual cues were seen to be comparable alternatives. Facebook relationships thrive on the level of intimacy within self-disclosure.

This means that the more we disclose to others in terms of quality, not so much quality, the more meaningful the relationship becomes.

This supports URT because as we disclose more and trust others, we develop stronger relationships. As we develop stronger online relationships, we reduce the overall uncertainty about the other person. Thus, interactions on Facebook appear more like FtF communication than meets the eye.

As predictability was also a critical aspect of URT, the evidence would suggest that CMC relationships that developed on Facebook took on the same conventional characteristics of FtF interactions. Consequently, while the context for communication is entirely different in an online setting, the means and social processes involved in developing friendships was still consistent.

However, it is important to understand that Facebook offers an environment where we tend to know most of our connections in person, see their pictures and have the ability to seek out information and context clues from their activity. Therefore, it is also important to study how URT and the strategies apply in CMC when we do not necessarily know or have existing FtF relationships with the other person.

Such a case study is other online dating sites. eHarmony offers a great example to understand how URT applies to a CMC setting where users may not know their connections very well. Neil Warren utilized his 35 years of clinical experience to launch a service that would utilize scientific research on CMC to help people develop meaningful relationships in a safe environment eHarmony, N.

Essentially, the important aspects of information seeking behavior are met with this guided communication. Users can browse profiles based on relevant criteria and a controlled communication environment is there to carefully foster interaction, if any.

Luckily, research has been done on behalf of online dating sites to analyze CMC in online dating communities. In this comprehensive study of respondents who use at least one online dating site such as eHarmony or Match. com , Gibbs sought to identify if URT strategies were utilized and if so, which ones. Even more interesting is the issue of privacy and security.

Gibbs remarked that security issues were the most important factor that influenced uncertainty reduction behaviors Gibbs et al, , p. Basically, the extent to which URT applied to the results was based on security issues. As users were concerned with who they were communicating with, they engaged in more information seeking strategies.

There were also other notable results. In addition to information seeking behavior, users also tended to utilize warranting reducing uncertainty and overcoming security concerns.

This could be accounted for by the fact that within the realm of online dating, the users intend to develop FtF relationships over time. Indeed, this increased the overall use of uncertainty reduction strategies. Consequently, these warranting practices mean that security was a major issue. As expected, users who engaged in these strategies tended to disclose more personal information to the other user.

Moreover, contextual clues were also used to reduce uncertainty and find out about the potential mates they were communicating with. Thus, although visual cues were not there and users were communicating randomly, similar principles of URT still did apply. Users not only disclosed more information as they used more strategies, but they also tended to value privacy concerns more.

In fact, the issue of privacy is one of the major differences from CMC within other social networks like Facebook. Gibbs also remarked that because users do not have access to mutual friends as they would in Facebook, considering potential partners required a much more in depth process of reducing uncertainty Gibbs et al, , p.

Indeed, predicting the level of self disclosure that users participated in was directly correlated to the privacy-related concerns of online dating sites. Thus, since URT strategies mitigated these concerns, many users who reported success in online dating engaged in these strategies quite often. Consequently, we can see that while the Facebook environment is different from online dating sites, users still engaged in similar strategies, albeit in different levels of intensity.

Gibbs also reported that although higher self-disclosure in online dating led to greater perceived success, her findings suggest that there are numerous key distinctions in the type of self-disclosure that was utilized. com members. As users have a choice as to what information they divulge, they can monitor the image that they project on potential partners. Interestingly, users did not always portray themselves in the most positive light as originally anticipated.

In fact, while many users reported to be frankly honest for negative traits, this was detrimental to the perception of the other person. This was accounted for by Gibbs with the hypothesis that users anticipated a future FtF interaction and did not want to take the risk of being caught lying Gibbs, , p. Self Presentation success, on the other hand, was attributed to positive self disclosure. In relation to URT, we see that users who perceived successful relationships did in fact disclose more information as the interaction went on.

However, the type of disclosure was the major distinction. Users who portrayed themselves more positively experienced more success in contrast to users who were more honest with negative characteristics. To recapitulate, the realm of online dating gives wonderful opportunity to research how FtF interaction theories like URT apply in CMC contexts. People in nearly every major demographic group—old and young, men and women, urbanites and rural dwellers—are more likely to know someone who uses online dating or met a long term partner through online dating than was the case eight years ago.

And this is especially true for those at the upper end of the socio-economic spectrum:. Even as online daters have largely positive opinions of the process, many have had negative experiences using online dating. Paid dating sites, and sites for people who are seeking partners with specific characteristics are popular with relatively large numbers of online daters:.

Even today, the vast majority of Americans who are in a marriage, partnership, or other serious relationship say that they met their partner through offline—rather than online—means. At the same time, the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years. This question was asked of everyone in a marriage or other long-term partnership, including many whose relationships were initiated well before meeting online was an option.

Younger adults are also more likely than older ones to say that their relationship began online. In addition, people who have used online dating are significantly more likely to say that their relationship began online than are those who have never used online dating.

Compared with when we conducted our first study of dating and relationships in , many more Americans are using online tools to check up on people they used to date, and to flirt with potential or current love interests:. And while younger adults are also more likely than their elders to look up past flames online, this behavior is still relatively common among older cohorts. Today six out of every ten Americans use social networking sites SNS such as Facebook or Twitter, and these sites are often intertwined with the way they experience their past and present romantic relationships:.

Younger adults are especially likely to live out their relationships through social networking sites. These sites are also being used as a source of background research on potential romantic partners. As more and more Americans use social networking sites, these spaces can become the site of potential tension or awkwardness around relationships and dating.

Not surprisingly, young adults—who have near-universal rates of social networking site use and have spent the bulk of their dating lives in the social media era—are significantly more likely than older social media users to have experienced all three of these situations in the past.

And women are more likely than men to have blocked or unfriended someone who was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, , among a sample of 2, adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline 1, and cell phone 1,, including without a landline phone.

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Posted September 6, Reviewed by Lybi Ma. However, these pools can be relatively shallow. In the search for a potential date, more and more people are switching to less traditional methods. Online dating is really popular. Using the internet is really popular. With the rise of apps like Tinder and the various copycat models , who could blame them? With the popularity of sites like eHarmony, Match. com, OkCupid, and countless others, the stigma of online dating has diminished considerably in the last decade.

According to the Pew Research Center , the overwhelming majority of Americans suggest that online dating is a good way to meet people. Online dating services are now the second most popular way to meet a partner. The popularity of online dating is being driven by several things, but a major factor is time.

Online dating presents an effective solution to a serious problem. Statistics suggest that about 1 in 5 relationships begin online nowadays. Before you throw caution to the wind and empty your wallet into the pockets of an online app with the reckless abandon of a love-struck teenager , there are a few things you should know.

OK, this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation. Well duh, people want to be appealing. A study of over 1, online daters in the US and UK conducted by global research agency OpinionMatters founds some very interesting statistics.

Women apparently lied more than men, with the most common dishonesties being about looks. But men were only marginally better. Their most common lies were about their financial situation, specifically about having a better job financially than they actually do.

In both the US and UK samples, dishonesty declined with age. Maybe older people are just more interested in projecting their real self, rather than an imagined or ideal version. One of the big problems with online dating for women is that, although there are genuine relationship-seeking men on the sites, there are also plenty of guys on there simply looking for sex. Not quite, but it is full of unscrupulous vendors looking to separate you from your money by whatever means possible in other news, have you heard about the secret to getting killer abs in less than 7 minutes using this 1 weird trick…?

There are pitfalls and tripwires in every sphere of life, but this may be particularly true in the context of online dating. It might even be advisable to follow these general guidelines:. If something feels off, trust your gut. Never mind the fact that more than one-third of all people who use online dating sites have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online , those that somehow do manage to find someone else they are willing to marry and who is willing to marry them a vanishingly tiny subset of online daters face an uphill battle.

And it gets worse. Couples who met online are nearly 3 times as likely to get divorced as couples that met face-to-face. According to the Association for Psychological Science, reviewing multiple candidates causes people to be more judgmental and inclined to dismiss a not-quite-perfect candidate than they otherwise would be in a face-to-face meeting.

Ryan Anderson, Ph. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are. Ryan Anderson Ph.

The Mating Game. The Ugly Truth About Online Dating Are we sacrificing love for convenience? Posted September 6, Reviewed by Lybi Ma Share. Research says one-third of all people who use online dating sites have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online.

A study showed that reviewing multiple dating candidates online causes people to be more judgmental about them. About the Author. Read Next. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Get Help Find a Therapist Find a Treatment Center Find a Psychiatrist Find a Support Group Find Teletherapy Members Login Sign Up United States Austin, TX Brooklyn, NY Chicago, IL Denver, CO Houston, TX Los Angeles, CA New York, NY Portland, OR San Diego, CA San Francisco, CA Seattle, WA Washington, DC.

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The Ugly Truth About Online Dating,Building meaningful relationships online

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A first look at communication theory 7th ed. Past winner Name Samantha M. These users also believe dating sites and apps generally make the process of dating easier. This research implies that even as early in , the internet and CMC did foster the development of new relationships that eventually extended out of the scope of online interaction. While highly pessimistic, Parks offered evidence that online relationships can not only be successful, but can develop into eventual FtF interaction.

OK, close this. There also exist some demographic differences in URT. This was most likely true because users that interacted with one another anticipated a FtF encounter in which their lies would potentially be exposed. However, we do require that you cite it properly using the citation provided below in MLA format. Technology has undoubtedly changed the way that human beings communicate with one another today, online dating sites research. Today, three-in-ten U. Made in USA Live Chat Chat with us.

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