Handling Impressions On The Web: Self-Presentation Processes into the Online Dating Sites Environment

Handling Impressions On The Web: Self-Presentation Processes into the Online Dating Sites Environment

Nicole Ellison, Rebecca Heino, Jennifer Gibbs, Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes into the internet dating Environment, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, amount 11, problem 2, 1 January 2006, Pages 415–441


This research investigates self-presentation techniques among online dating sites participants, checking out just just how individuals handle their online presentation of self so that you can achieve the purpose of finding a partner that is romantic. Thirty-four people active on a large online dating service took part in phone interviews about their online dating sites experiences and perceptions. Qualitative information analysis implies that individuals taken care of tiny cues online, mediated the tension between impression administration pressures plus the want to provide a sense that is authentic of through techniques such as making a profile that reflected their “ideal self, ” and attempted to ascertain the veracity of the identification claims. This research provides empirical help for Social Information Processing concept in a naturalistic context and will be offering understanding of the complicated method by which “honesty” is enacted online.


The dating that is online represents a chance to report changing social norms surrounding technology-mediated relationship development also to gain understanding of crucial facets of online behavior, such as for instance impression development and self-presentation techniques. Mixed-mode relationships, wherein individuals meet that is first and then go offline, challenge founded theories that concentrate on exclusively online relationships and supply possibilities for brand new concept development (Walther & Parks, 2002). Although previous studies have explored relationship development and self-presentation online (Bargh, McKenna, & Fitzsimons, 2002; McLaughlin, Osbourne, & Ellison, 1997; Parks & Floyd, 1996; Roberts & Parks, 1999; Utz, 2000), the online dating sites forum is qualitatively not the same as a great many other online settings as a result of the expectation of face-to-face conversation inherent in this context (Gibbs, Ellison, & Heino, 2006) and also the proven fact that social methods are nevertheless nascent.

The use of online dating or online personals services has evolved from a marginal to a mainstream social practice in recent years. Each month in the U.S. (CBC News, 2004) in 2003, at least 29 million Americans (two out of five singles) used an online dating service (Gershberg, 2004); in 2004, on average, there were 40 million unique visitors to online dating sites. In fact, the internet personals category is just one of the many profitable kinds of premium content on the net in the usa (Egan, 2003) as well as the online dating sites market is anticipated to achieve $642 million in 2008 (Greenspan, 2003). Ubiquitous use of the world-wide-web, the diminished social stigma connected with online dating sites, therefore the affordable price delete phrendly of online matchmaking services donate to the increasingly typical perception that online dating is a possible, efficient option to meet relationship or long-term relationship lovers (St. John, 2002). Mediated matchmaking is unquestionably maybe not just a phenomenon that is new paper personal ads have actually existed considering that the mid-19th century (Schaefer, 2003) and movie relationship had been popular within the 1980s (Woll & Cosby, 1987; Woll & younger, 1989). Although scholars involved in many different scholastic procedures have actually studied these earlier in the day kinds of mediated matchmaking ( ag e.g., Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992; Lynn & Bolig, 1985; Woll, 1986; Woll & Cosby, 1987), present Internet online dating services are substantively distinct from these incarnations for their bigger individual base and much more advanced self-presentation choices.

Modern theoretical views let us advance our knowledge of the way the age-old procedure of mate-finding is changed through online methods and habits. By way of example, Social Suggestions Processing (SIP) theory as well as other frameworks help illuminate computer-mediated interaction (CMC), interpersonal interaction, and impression management procedures. This short article centers on the methods in which CMC interactants handle their self-presentation that is online and to our understanding of these procedures by examining these problems within the naturalistic context of internet dating, utilizing qualitative information collected from in-depth interviews with online dating sites individuals.

Literature Review

In comparison to a technologically deterministic perspective that centers around the traits regarding the technologies on their own, or perhaps a socially deterministic approach that privileges individual behavior, this short article reflects a social shaping viewpoint. Social shaping of technology approaches (Dutton, 1996; MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1985; Woolgar, 1996) acknowledge the ways that information and interaction technologies (ICTs) both form consequently they are shaped by social methods. As Dutton points down, “technologies can start, near, and otherwise contour choices that are social while not constantly into the methods anticipated on such basis as rationally extrapolating through the observed properties of technology” (1996, p. 9). One certain framework that reflects this process is Howard’s (2004) embedded news viewpoint, which acknowledges both the capabilities together with constraints of ICTs. Capabilities are those areas of technology that enhance our capability to relate to the other person, enact modification, and so forth; constraints are the ones components of technology that hinder our power to attain these objectives. An aspect that is important of use, which can be mentioned not clearly highlighted in Howard’s framework, may be the idea of circumvention, which defines the precise strategies used by people to exploit the capabilities and minmise the constraints related to their usage of ICTs. Even though idea of circumvention is unquestionably perhaps not a new comer to CMC researchers, this short article seeks to emphasize the significance of circumvention methods whenever learning the social areas of technology usage. 1

Self-Presentation and Self-Disclosure in Online and Offline Contexts

Self-presentation and self-disclosure procedures are essential aspects of relational development in offline settings (Taylor & Altman, 1987), particularly in initial phases. Goffman’s work on self-presentation explicates the ways that a person may take part in strategic activities “to convey an impact to other people which it really is inside the interests to convey” (1959, p. 4). These impression-management habits consist of expressions provided (interaction into the sense that is traditional e.g., spoken interaction) and expressions downered off (presumably unintentional interaction, such as for example nonverbal interaction cues). Self-presentation methods are specially essential during relationship initiation, as other people will utilize this given information to decide whether or not to pursue a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987). Analysis implies that whenever individuals expect you’ll satisfy a possible relationship partner the very first time, they will change their self-presentational behavior prior to the values desired by the potential date (Rowatt, Cunningham, & Druen, 1998). Even though getting together with strangers, people have a tendency to participate in self-enhancement (Schlenker & Pontari, 2000).

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