Approximately 9 out of every 10 online-dating profiles contain a lie, according to one study.
Researchers from Cornell University and Michigan State University recruited 80 men and women who had a personal ad on four online dating sites, including Match.com and Yahoo Personals, in order to measure and then compare their height, weight and age to what was stated on their profiles, according to New York Magazine
“Deception was indeed frequently observed: approximately nine out of ten (81%) of the participants lied on at least one of the assessed variables,”
the researchers wrote in their study
. “Weight was the most frequently lied about attribute, followed by height, and least of all age.”
Men tended to overstate their height by half an inch on average. Women were found to fib most about their weight; they tended to list it as eight and a half pounds less than what they actually weighed. They found no gender difference in deceptions about age.
According to the researchers, most of the deceptions observed would be difficult to detect in person. Extreme lies included a “three inch lie about height, a 35 pound lie about weight, and an 11 year lie about age.”
They hypothesized that these bigger lies, which “would be highly salient and memorable when encountered,” “may be one reason that people believe lying is so rampant in online dating, especially since these extreme lies are more likely to be circulated.”
The researchers also found that deceptive profiles tended to share certain patterns, like shortness in length and a lack of “I” pronouns.
They concluded that deception in online dating profiles are “strategic.”
“Participants balanced the tension between appearing as attractive as possible while also being perceived as honest,” the researchers wrote. “Online daters appear to intentionally take advantage of the profile features that afford the enhancement of their self-presentation (e.g., editablity, asynchronicity), while bearing in mind the socio-technical constraints of online dating profiles (e.g., recordability and anticipated face-to-face interaction).”