Scientists reveal the secret of online dating: A 'humble and real' profile is key to success
- People drawn to profiles that were positive but not over-the-top glowing
- Preferred people whose online persona could be clearly traced
- Wanted details, not broad generalities, especially about where a prospective love interest works and what he or she does for a living
Keeping your online dating profile humble is the key to success, researchers have revealed.
They found that people who are looking for love online are less apt to trust a person with a flashy profile.
Instead, they prefer a potential partner who appears not only successful, but humble and real as well.
Most people in their study were drawn to individuals whose profiles were positive but not over-the-top glowing.
'We found people want to contact a person who appears to be accurate in what they are saying about themselves online,' says Andy High of the University of Iowa.
'It's tough when it comes to dating profiles because we want someone who seems like an amazing person, but we also hopefully will have a relationship with this individual, so we want them to exist.'
As many as one in 10 Americans age 18 and older use online dating sites or a mobile dating app--according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center.
The team found most people in their study were drawn to individuals whose profiles were positive but not over-the-top glowing.
More important, however, participants preferred people whose online persona could be clearly traced to a real person.
That means people want details, not broad generalities, especially about where a prospective love interest works and what he or she does for a living.
'Instead of just saying, 'I write a blog,' name the blog and encourage people to check it out,' High says. 'If you work for a company, name the company. ... If you can name something or provide people with a link to get there, then do it.
'The idea is the viewer will think this is a real person,' he adds.
High and Wotipka presented their preliminary findings in November 2014 at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association.
They plan to submit a paper to a peer-reviewed journal in the spring of 2015.
Personal profiles are not just for romantic pursuit.
People create profiles for networking, advancement, and business opportunities, through sites such as the business-oriented social networking service LinkedIn. As of November 2014, 332 million people had LinkedIn profiles.
High says previous research on online dating has focused on how people present themselves in their profiles. Those studies found that some people tend to exaggerate or lie about themselves and their accomplishments.
High and Wotipka took a different tack in this study, studying online dating from the point of view of the person sorting through the profiles.
'We wondered, 'What do people like in a dating profile?'' Wotipka says. ''Whom are they most likely to contact? Whom are they most interested in meeting?''
To do this, they created eight online dating profiles.
Participants were asked to judge the profiles and decide which ones they would contact.
Researchers expected that profiles that were presented with high selective self-presentation--those who sounded perfect--and high warranting-- those who provided specifics that could be traced to a real person--would be the most popular.
They were wrong.
'I thought people would think, 'Not only is this person the greatest in the world, but they're real, too. Wow!' but I was wrong,' Wotipka says.
'It was the low SSP' and high warranting 'that ended up winning out.'
In other words, people were turned off by profiles that sounded too good to be true.
This was especially true for viewers who said they preferred online social interaction.
Researchers found the more specific information a profile contained that could be traced to a real person, the more the viewer trusted the profile.
'Users of online dating sites are aware that people misrepresent themselves, and inaccurate profiles are one of the biggest drawbacks to using online dating sites,' the study says.
High says the key to creating an attractive online dating profile is balance.
'You want to balance all that is wonderful about yourself with some things that aren't negative, but more humble or realistic about yourself.
'It's important to put your best foot forward,' he adds, 'but maybe not in your best pair of shoes.'