I still can’t believe someone let her choose this as a thesis topic

Scripts for online dating: A model and theory of online romantic relationship initiation, by Bridget Long.

“In their seminal study, Rose and Frieze (1989) examined the content and sequence of the behaviors of a first [traditional, not based on online interaction – US] date to determine if they reflected traditional gender roles. Ninety-seven undergraduate students were asked to rank order at least 20 actions that would occur as someone prepared for a first date, went on the date, and ended the date. An action was considered a script if it was listed by more than 25% of participants. Results indicated the male script had 27 actions whereas women had 19 actions. A woman’s first date script included: tell friends and family, groom and dress, be nervous, worry about or change appearance, check appearance, wait for date, welcome date to home, introduce to parents or roommates, leave, confirm plans, get to know date, compliment date, joke/laugh/talk, try to impress date, go to movies/show/party, eat, go home, tell date she had a good time, and kiss goodnight. A man’s first date included: ask for a date, decide what to do, groom and dress, be nervous, worry about or change appearance, prepare car/apartment, check money, go to date’s house, meet parents or roommates, leave, open car door, confirm plans, get to know date, compliment date, joke/laugh/talk, try to impress date, go to movies/show/party, eat, pay, be polite, initiate physical contact, take date home, tell date he had a good time, ask for another date, tell date will be in touch, kiss goodnight, and go home. [I have written about these aspects of dating here on the blog before.]

Findings indicated traditional gender roles still existed. Women more frequently included in scripts waiting to be asked on a date, being concerned about appearance, rejecting physical contact, and maintaining the conversation (Rose & Frieze, 1989, p. 265). Men were supposed to ask for and plan the date, pick up his date, initiate and pay for date activities, and initiate physical contact. […] Actual dating scripts and hypothetical dating scripts are very similar, demonstrating the connection between cultural scripts and interpersonal scripts for dating.”

A few of the scripts have changed over time (e.g. males are less likely to be expected to pay for the food than they used to be), but they still drive behaviour to a very significant extent.

“According to Valkenburg and Peter (2007), “about 37% of single American Internet users who are looking for a romantic partner have gone to a dating web site” (p. 849). Another study found 56.2% of all Internet users had visited at least one online personal site (Lever et al., 2008). A Pew research study estimated that out of 10 million single Internet users, 74% have used the Internet to try to find a partner (Rosen et al., 2008).” […]

“While individuals in relationships and in general want to highlight their positive attributes, online daters have the ability to manipulate those attributes (Ellison et al., 2006). Because daters have potential to meet face-to-face, they do not want to exaggerate their positive attributes too much. Daters in one study indicated only including information in their profiles if they believed their family or friends would also agree; an example could be a good sense of humor (Yurchinsin et al., 2005). Some online daters even have friends or family members read their profiles to make sure they are accurate representations (Whitty, 2008). However, while individuals do not necessarily exaggerate their positive traits online, there may be an issue of the foggy mirror: a gap between self-perceptions and the assessments made by others (Ellison et al., 2006). While daters were not trying to deceive others, their evaluations of themselves did not match those shared by others. Daters sometimes include aspects of their identities that they do not necessarily possess but that they would be interested in cultivating (Yurchinsin et al., 2005). […] The most common profile misrepresentations admitted by online daters were looks, details about their own relationships/children, age, weight, socioeconomic status, and interests (Whitty, 2008). […]

While attraction is still important, the way in which potential partners are filtered out is different online. It is easier to learn about a person and quickly move on without much concern, whereas it is more time- and emotionally- consuming to do the same face-to-face. Further, individuals may have different filters for potential mates met online versus face-to-face. Clearly, this is different from traditional dating scripts. […] Viewing profiles of others and deciding to contact another member is a complex process. In their Australian online dating study, Whitty and Carr’s (2006) participants indicated they viewed profiles as if they had a shopping list to check what products met what they were looking for in terms of physical attributes, similar interests/values, socioeconomic status, and personality. Once again, in traditional dating circumstances, this information is usually not available in advance. While we may base opinions on available information, such as appearance, online dating provides much more detail. Online daters can also engage in a compensatory model in which certain positive attributes of matches make up for shortcomings in other areas (Kambara, 2005).

Because of the options available in the search functions, such as checkboxes for particular criteria, the dating process can seem like shopping. The function may allow too many or not enough options depending on the search criteria or location searched. Kambara (2005) further noted daters learn how to read profiles to make judgments about them more easily. For instance, if someone had several misspelled words in a profile, it may be interpreted as that person having a lack of education (Ellison et al., 2006). Thus, smaller cues were important such as spelling, the time responses were sent, and the length of time between responses. These results are demonstrative of Social Information Processing Theory (SIPT; Walther, 2008), or using available cues to draw inferences about people met online. For instance, if someone sent an email in the middle of the night, the recipient can make judgments about the lifestyle of the sender and his/her staying up late. If an individual responds very quickly, it may signal interest or desperation. Daters explained they find users who have clichés (e.g. enjoys long walks on the beach) in their profiles to be less real and avoided those users’ profiles (Whitty, 2008).

Whitty and Carr (2006) summarized the aspects online daters were looking for in a partner online. The most attractive qualities were looks, similar interests/values, socioeconomic status (education, intelligence, occupation, income, being professional), and personality. Other aspects looked for in a partner were honesty/being genuine, age, height, proximity, size/weight, and being a non-smoker (Whitty, 2008). […] Online daters may place more importance on physical characteristics, because when meeting someone on a dating site they are presented with a photograph, not just text, and because there are so many choices, individuals can simply move on to more attractive potential partners (Whitty & Carr, 2006). Because the pool of available partners is larger online, individuals filter partners out quickly. As Vangelisti (2002) explained, romantic relationship initiation is constrained by physical (e.g., geographic location) and social contexts. However, for online dating these constraints are less apparent and there are more available potential partners. […] There are thousands of potential partners available to browse so online daters can add more to their wish lists for a partner and quickly move on when someone does not fit. Offline dating, however, does not have this abundance of potential partners (Whitty, 2008) and so individuals may not be so judgmental.”

The quotes are from the first two chapters. I may post more later on.


August 31, 2012 - Posted by | dating

1 Comment »

  1. Pretty cool stuff.

    Comment by Emil | September 2, 2012 | Reply

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