The Psychology of Online Dating: The Psychologist’s Viewpoint

Psychologists interested in dating and attraction have learned a great deal by reading and examining the personal advertisements and ‘lonely hearts’ pages of local and national newspapers. Since we psychologists have benefited from the people who use these services it seems only right that some of the things we’ve found should be given back. In this series of articles I will outline some of the more practically useful findings that have come from this research and provide a summary of the results reported in academic psychology journals, written for those who probably have the greatest interest in this knowledge: the daters themselves.

There is quite a bit of material to cover so I have organised it into a series of six articles:

The Psychologist’s Viewpoint

This article gives an idea of the scope of research using personal advertisements, the way personal profiles are used in research, and the kind of things psychologists can find out when they put their minds to it.

He wants and she is

This outlines research into the things that men say they are looking for in a partner. Alongside this we look at how women describe themselves. Combining these we can assess how accurately women understand what men want and use the right kind of language to attract a man’s interest. This one is particularly useful for the girls and should help you write something for the ‘in your own words’ bit of your profile.

She wants and he is

This article gives the opposite perspective to the previous one, looking at the things that women say they want in a partner and the way that men describe themselves. Do these match up? Have men got it right or are they missing the point completely? This one might help the boys rethink the content of their ‘own words’ parts of their dating profiles.

Like for Like or Opposites Attract?

This article summarises the results in the previous two and uses these to outline the current psychological theories of attraction. It explains how ‘like attracts like’ and ‘opposites attract’ can both be true and how this can help you when you are first making contact with someone after reading their profile.

Blitzers, Boasters and Being Choosy

This article looks at research into general approaches to dating including the results found by researchers who experimentally placed different versions of personal advertisements and then sat back to see how many and what kind of responses they got.

Summary and Practical Uses

The final article of this series summarises all that has gone before and places this new knowledge firmly in the context of online dating, describing how these results can be constructively used to make fewer mistakes and to improve your chances of attracting responses to your profile and getting a positive response to your first approach to someone.

Before getting into the results of the research we need to take a brief tour around the ways in which research psychologists use personal advertisements and the kinds of things they can find, so we have some idea of the sort of things that psychologists can and cannot say about personal advertisements and internet dating profiles.

Content Analysis

Personal advertisements have been a rich source of information for social scientists investigating dating behaviours. To give an idea of the scale of this enterprise, my own research in this area is based on the analysis of nearly five thousand advertisements collected from UK local newspapers. Apart from this I have copies of more than sixty research reports published by colleagues in Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Poland, UK and USA. This adds up to about thirty thousand individual profiles that have been analysed by psychologists, sociologists and other professional researchers. Most of this research has used printed personal ads extracted from newspapers and magazines as these are more useful to us (as explained below) but the information and insights gained can be applied to any situation where first impressions come from written descriptions, so these results are directly relevant and useful to people using internet dating sites.

Creating a profile for an internet dating site usually involves describing yourself on a whole host of listed options such as eye colour (blue, green etc.), smoking habit, attractiveness, salary etc. This information is usually entered into the site using a form. Within this form each person makes their own choices from the options available but because it is a form, everyone has to mention the same kinds of things. In a sense, the dating site has already decided what the important features are and you simply tick the correct boxes when describing yourself and describing the sort of person you want to meet.

With printed personal advertisements there is no detailed form to fill in and you can write whatever you want. The only restriction is on the number of words with an escalating charge per word up to a maximum limit. As a result these advertisements are quite short, averaging about 22 words. This is typically enough space to mention about nine things, whether these are your own attributes (age, hair and eye colour, looks) or things you are looking for in a partner (sense of humour, marital status, age range, personality, height). Given these restrictions we can reasonably expect that people mention the most important things as they see it, so the content of these advertisements tell us what characteristics the writers think are important to the other sex, and what key things they are looking for themselves. For example, a personal advertisement that says “Stunning, curvy and adventurous 22 year old blonde female is looking for a financially secure older man, ideally with own hair and teeth, who will spoil her rotten.” gives a pretty clear indication of what matters to this person and what she is offering in return.

Researchers have taken thousands of personal advertisements and analysed them to look for general patterns. From this, they have identified some very clear differences between the kinds of things that are important to men and women when looking for a partner. They have also looked at how well the self descriptions of each sex matches the features that the other sex says they want, giving an indication of how much each sex understands about what the other sex is looking for. Results from this kind of research are discussed in the articles He wants and she is, and She wants and he is.

Apart from the specific attributes and features mentioned, there are also more general differences in how people write these descriptions. For example women tend to give more detailed information about the sort of person they are looking for than men, while men are more focussed on describing themselves. Looking at a profile from this perspective tells us quite a lot about the approach people take to dating, including whether they are looking for a few high quality matches or just want as many dates as they can possibly get. This research is summarised in the article Blitzers, Boasters and Being Choosy.

Knowing how people describe themselves and the sort of thing they are looking for also allows us to look at broader questions such as whether people are looking for others who are similar to themselves or would prefer a partner who is different but, in some sense, complementary. This is discussed in the article Like for Like or Opposites Attract where we find that both are true once we understand a more basic and useful theory of attraction.

Experimental Research

Apart from examining the advertisements that real people have written in the hope of finding a partner, psychologists have occasionally become active researchers and have placed experimental personal advertisements to see how many and what type of response they get. For example, if two almost identical advertisements are placed and one receives twice as many responses as the other, this tells us that the difference between these ads (which may be as small as one word) has a big effect on the chances of attracting a date.

Some psychologists have also used this type of research to investigate the sort of things that men and women write when responding to an advertisement. This has given researchers another way to classify the different approaches to dating and to identify groups such as the ‘blitzers’ who send responses to everyone in the hope that some of them will score a hit. Results from this experimental research are presented in the article Blitzers, Boasters and Being Choosy.

This article has outlined the organisation and content of this series, has introduced the ways in which psychologists approach dating research, and has indicated the sort of things they may be able to see from their viewpoint as researchers.

In the next article we move on to looking at some actual findings. He wants and she is looks at the features that women tend to emphasis when advertising themselves, the things that men are actually looking for, and whether or not womens’ self descriptions suggest they are marketing themselves well and have an accurate insight into what men want.

Online Dating Advice For People Ready To Test The Waters

Online dating is a phenomenon which is being encouraged a lot especially by upcoming and established dating sites. However one is supposed to be aware of possible dangers and disappointments of Internet dating. Many people will convince you trust online dating to give you successful relationship. It might be true but it is also good to have some online dating advice. You will meet people with fancy dating profiles but you have no means to tell what is behind those pretty faces you see through the web cams. Prevention is always better than cure so you should be careful while dealing with your online date. Not every person is genuinely looking for love. Some are con men out to exploit your resources.

Love is a tricky tool to use because as you must have known it makes us blind. These looters will target dating sites since they are aware that here people search for love. Do not let anyone rob you off your heart as well as your money. It is very painful. My online dating advice is, you should always be on guard. Assess the questions your online date is asking you and if you find them suspicious run very fast lest you dismiss your own observations. Whatever you do I advise you not to disclose your personal details to the stranger. You might have chatted for about six months but remember you met online and his identity might be faked.

This malicious people are very intelligent. They will play with your psychology until you are convinced. They might tell you to send them money for ticket so that they can meet you physically. They know that you feel unloved and that nobody has ever really placed any importance on you. They will use this to their advantage. They might cook up a story that they had a bad car accident and you are the only person who loves them and who can bail them out. A trick right there, you will feel appreciated and since you have the money you will wire it to a physically fit person. Some of them are even of the same sex with you. My online dating advice is that you should not send money to a person you have not physically met and evaluated.

It is an important online dating advice for women not to have sex with their online partners during their first physical date. It is very absurd. A survey carried out recently revealed that most women get involved sexually without protection during the first date. You should know that your life is very important. It is not wise to place it on such high health risk. You might long-term online friends but it is hard to know what your date does with his life. Another piece of online dating advice is that, you should learn to use search engines to do a back ground check-up of the person. This will give you results which might give you a clue about your new found friend.

Look For Love: Online Dating Made Easy

Have you ever given a thought to using online dating to look for love? Did you realize that many of the best online dating services offer better options now, than they ever did before? Has the bar scene gotten old, quickly? If you want to look for love, and you want to have an astonishingly large pool of potential dates to choose from, look no further than online dating to get meet the man of your dreams.

How to Choose An Online Dating Service

Choosing an online dating service that is right for you is now easier than it ever was before. To begin with, there are many top quality services out there, and all of them have something special to offer their members. Many offer free trial periods so you can test out the special features they offer and see whether their site is the best place for you to look for love. If you don’t like it, you can move on to the next.

Many sites cater to specific demographics. If you ascribe to a certain set of religious beliefs, or if you like certain sports or even if you love certain pets, you can find a dating site that has been set up just for those people like you who want to look for love among people who want the same things.

Other sites are set up to allow you to seek a mate from people with the best possible educational backgrounds, and some even cater to people who make a certain amount of money annually. No matter who you are, or what you are looking for, you can definitely find the kind of dating site that will give you the greatest potential of finding the perfect mate.

How To Build Your Online Dating Profile

When you build an online dating profile, you may feel tempted to make yourself out in the best light possible. Although this might seem like a good idea, rest assured that if you tell any lies as you look for love, your potential dates will find out, and you’ll be back at square one.

The best way to go about building your profile is this:

Know What You Are Looking For – Be sure to use positive terms to describe what you are looking for, and what you want. You are here to look for love, not to complain about past relationships or go into detail about the worst date you’ve ever been on.

Tell The World Who You Are – Let the people who will be looking at your profile see the real, true you. This will give you the best chance at finding a compatible partner you can be happy with! Don’t make things up. You are who you are, and that’s great!

Be Open To Meeting A Variety Of People – As you look for love online, keep in mind that the best possible match for you might not look exactly like the person you are envisioning. Looks might seem important, but remember – they fade over time. Allow yourself to be open about who you are willing to meet and date – you might just discover that the guy with the big ears, who others have passed over, is an amazing partner.