People who lie on online dating services are likely people-pleasers who want to present themselves favorably, just as they would in person, according to new research from the University of Kansas.
Jeffery Hall, assistant professor of communications studies, surveyed more than 5,000 participants who used Internet dating services to find out what kinds of people are most likely to lie.
He asked them how likely they were to lie about topics such as assets, relationship goals, personal interests, personal attributes, past relationships, age and weight.
"What people lie about depends on what kind of people they are," 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."
Those most likely to lie during the online dating process are people who have a strong awareness of what people like and control their behavior to achieve social ends. Their actions are not necessarily manipulative, but instead reflect a desire to be liked and to fit in.
In the study, men admitted to lying more overall, but women were most likely to lie about their weight. Because online daters hope to meet face-to-face eventually, the amount of lying is quite small.
"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."
Hall's research was published in the February issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.