How Often Do People Lie on Dating Apps? Here’s What Two Researchers Found
BY DAVID MARKOWITZ, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON / THE CONVERSATION JULY 31, 2019
Nearly one-fourth of young adults are looking for love through dating websites or apps.
This relatively new form of courtship can give you access to a large pool of potential partners. It also presents a unique set of challenges.
For example, you’ve probably heard about — or have personally experienced — a date that was planned online but didn’t go well forone of the following reasons: He was shorter than his profile said he was, she looked different in person than she did in her photos, or he was talkative over text but it was like pulling teeth at dinner.
In other words, a person’s profile — and the messages sent before a date — might not capture who a person really is.
In a 2018 paper, my colleague Jeff Hancock and I wondered: How often do people who use dating apps lie? What sort of things are they prone to lie about?
….We found that lies could be categorized into two main types. The first kind were lies related to self-presentation. If participants wanted to present themselves as more attractive, for example, they would lie about how often they went to the gym. Or if their match appeared to be religious, they might lie about how often they read the Bible to make it seem as if they had similar interests.
….The second kind of lies were related to availability management, with daters describing why they couldn’t meet, or giving excuses for radio silence, like lying about their phone losing service.
These deceptions are called “butler lies” because they’re a relatively polite way to avoid communication without completely closing the door on the connection. If you’ve ever texted, “Sorry I went AWOL, my phone died,” when you just didn’t want to talk, you’ve told a butler lie.
Butler lies don’t make you a bad person. Instead, they can help you avoid dating pitfalls, such as appearing always available or desperate.
….Lying to appear like a good match or lying about your whereabouts can be completely rational behaviors. In fact, most people onlineexpect it. There’s also a benefit to lying just a little bit: It can make us stand out in the dating pool, while making us feel we’ve stayed true to who we are.
However, outright and pervasive lies — mentioning your love for dogs, but actually being allergic to them — can undermine trust. One too many big lies can be problematic for finding “the one.”
There was another interesting result that speaks to the nature of deception during the discovery phase. In our studies, the number of lies told by a participant was positively associated with the number of lies they believed their partner told.