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Lying For a Mate

In its August (2009) issue, Wired discussed the implications of a 2007 research study by teams of researchers from Cornell and Michigan State. The focus of the research was on the truthfulness of information provided by pariticipants who used on-line dating resources such as Match.com and Yahoo!Personals.

Some of the data:

  • In their profiles, 81% of the participants included false information about their physical characteristics
  • Their heights were off by an average of 1.1%
  • Their ages were off by an average of 1.1%
  • Their weights were off by an average of 5.6%
  • 59 % of the female online daters lied about their weight, 44% about their height, and 13% about their age
  • 61% of the male online daters lied about their height (61%), 55% about their weight, 24% about their age
  • Participants also lied about their income, political bent, years of education, and smoking tobacco
Task: Suppose an on-line profile includes the following information:
Age: 45
Height: 6 foot 3 inches
Weight: 200 pounds
Give the ranges for the physical description for the person involved (either male or female)? Would the person probably be recognizable, given these ranges?

As to the acceptability of including false information on online dating profiles, researcher Karolyn Budzek wrote: "In general...it was least acceptable to lie about education and relationship status, and most acceptable to lie about income and interests. Men and women differed somewhat in what types of lies were socially acceptable. Male online daters agreed that it was least acceptable to lie about whether or not you were in a relationship or had children, but believed that it is relatively acceptable to lie about income, occupation, politics, and interests. Females dating on the Internet reported that lying about relationship history and social status including occupation and education was highly unacceptable...Female online daters believed that it is (relatively) most acceptable to lie about hair and eye color, income, and interests."

Note: Though only data about averages are given, the situation rasies the question of ranges for the collected data, etc.

Source: Wired, Aug. 2009 and Internet Dating Lies