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“Sex, lies and dating profiles”

When people write their CV, many people tend to exaggerate their skills and qualities. For example, ‘I interact well with others, am extremely pro-active’ blah blah blah. Because they are not visible attributes, the fibs are difficult to detect.

Two United States psychologists, Günter J. Hitsch from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Ali Hortacsu from the University of Chicago Dept of Economics, decided to test how honest people were when they shared information through dating sites and whether people adapt their profiles to use what they perceive as the most desirable answers (Titled What Makes You Click – Mate Preferences in Online Dating).

After analysing data from 20,000 dating profiles, they first noticed online daters were taller, slimmer, better looking and a lot richer than the national average (at least that’s how they described themselves).

More than 4 per cent of online daters claimed to earn over $200,000 (£123,000) a year when, typically, less than 1 per cent of internet users actually earn that much. This suggests at least three out of the four are lying.

When it came to weight, women were undoubtedly the biggest fibbers. The study found in general, females claimed to be around 20lbs lighter – thank goodness for Photoshop! Men were more honest and their internet dating weights came within the national average.

Amazingly, 72 per cent of women claimed to be above average in the looks department – with 24 per cent claiming to be very attractive.

Men also claimed to be gorgeous – with 68 per cent saying they were above average and 19 per cent opting for very attractive.

All this begs the question: are they blatant fibbers or do they see themselves differently?

We can see both genders changed their answers, modifying them to what they perceive to be the most important attributes for a potential partner.

Women understand men are more generally attracted to visible attributes so body size, hair colour and other physical details were changed.

Men, on the other hand, feel woman are searching for security and they understand women generally prefer taller partners so they are more likely to embellish their height and earnings.

Men tend to avoid women on low incomes but what was also discovered is that females with a high income also receive fewer messages which indicates men find high earning woman threatening.

No one can hide physical shortcomings and at some point they will actually have to meet a date – let’s be honest, if these were company adverts they could be prosecuted for false advertising!

By far the biggest way to attract few responses on a dating website is to post a profile without a picture. On average, members with a profile picture get 40 per cent more emails than one without.

This means a balding, overweight, low paid and not very attractive male has a better chance than a handsome, $200,000 income guy who doesn’t upload a photo because people suspect any member without a photo is either very unattractive or has something to hide (a wife?).

Trying to find the love of your life is difficult enough. If people join a non-specific dating site which caters for all demographics, 56 per cent of men will never receive a single email. That figure drops to 21 per cent for women.

When members join a specific dating site such as parent dating, email responses rose significantly for both genders. This shows dating sites such as those for parents, specific religions or a particular sexual orientation provide people with a better chance of finding a partner.

By Nigel Woodforth

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One Response to “Sex, lies and dating profiles”

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