A recent New York Times article, Love, Lies and What They Learned, discusses the findings of a research study of over a million online dating profiles. The study was conducted by a bunch of distinguished academics and researchers and partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Sounds groundbreaking. Well, not exactly. I think that money and intellectual energy might have been better spent on stuff we don’t already know.
Here’s what they “discovered”:
1. “About 81 percent of people misrepresent their height, weight or age in their profiles, according to a study led by Catalina L. Toma, an assistant professor in the department of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”
The saddest thing is that since we’re so programmed to assume that the person whose profile we’re perusing is lying, the people that actually choose to rebel and tell the truth get thrown into the liar’s pile with the rest. That, in turn, makes the honest folks lie too! For example, if you say you’re 38 (when you really are) people will automatically assume that you’re really at least 40, so you decide to say that you’re 36 and that way get to your real age of 38. Get the logic? True, some sites including sawyouatsinai have created an age verification badge (good work), but most still couldn’t care less about the integrity of their users. Even SYAS hasn’t made age verification mandatory.
Based on this new study it’s clear why dating sites won’t implement mandatory age verification or other fact checking. If 80% of online daters are lying, sites would stand to lose 80% of their revenues. Business is business, right?
Then there’s lying about height and weight, which might not seems as bad, but why not? Lying is lying and for many people height and weight are actually more important factors than age in their mate selection process. Saying you’re thin when you’re not or that you’re 5’9″ when you’re really 5’7″ is wrong. The fact that these things (and for that matter, age also) are so irrelevant to finding your true love doesn’t matter one bit. Nobody wants to be lied to and cheated.
We don’t need another dating site for people to lie on. What we do need is a site called Honest Dating (already checked the domain, it’s taken) where a profile is not approved until it is checked for accuracy. I assume it will have less members than the average site, but the pool will be a heck of a lot cleaner.
2. White Americans don’t like to date non whites.
No big revelation here. I guess old habits die hard.
3. “Women have a stronger preference than men do for income over physical attributes.”
That means men are more concerned with how a woman looks and women are more concerned about how (or how much) a man earns. You know that already, right?
4. People tend to hide their political affiliations and beliefs so as not to alienate potential mates. I don’t think this is a big deal. I don’t think you should lie, but you don’t have to volunteer information either. Politics is something that can be discussed and worked out if necessary.
Long Live Honest Dating!!