Study: When it comes to online dating, everyone’s a little bit of a Catfish

But white lies may be good for your dating prospects -- and lead to actual self-improvement, experts say

Topics: online dating, Love, Romance, Manti Te'o, ,

Study: When it comes to online dating, everyone's a little bit of a Catfish (Credit: AP/Joe Raymond)

I don’t know how much I would trust a “study” from a website that allows men to bid money on dates with women, so, you know, let’s just start there.

Nonetheless, WhatsYourPrice.com conducted a survey about how honest people are in their online dating profiles, and like similar studies, found that a majority of people lie in them. Women tend to lie most about their weight; men tend to lie most about their height and income. (Oh, and their marital status.)

The survey also found the highest concentration of no-good dirty rotten online profile fabricators in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., while people in Houston, Phoenix, Boston, Charlotte, N.C., and Minneapolis were veritable George Washingtons of Internet dating.

But even the big liars aren’t full-on Catfish-ing potential mates, just lacing their profiles with minor deceptions and indulging in the same kinds of white lies that men and women have been telling over watery cocktails at bars since the beginning of time: That they are fitter, better educated, wealthier — you get the idea.

Other research has found that around 81 percent of people misrepresent some aspect of their real identity in their profiles. But 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 lies usually tend to be small. (You are, after all, going to meet in person soon enough.)

Now, before you go and delete your Internet dating profile of choice, consider this: Small lies can actually be good for your mental health and dating prospects, some researchers say. In a 2009 study on the issue, researchers found that some untruths — like exaggerating your college GPA — can actually lead to improved performance. The fibs, within reason, can become self-fulfilling.

“Exaggerators tend to be more confident and have higher goals for achievement,” Richard Gramzow, a psychologist at the University of Southampton in England and one of the study’s co-authors, told U.S. News and World Report. “Positive biases about the self can be beneficial.”



And lying may be necessary to “compete” in an over-saturated online dating market, but it’s incumbent to find a proper balance of honesty and the desire to present oneself in the very best terms, experts say.

Major takeaways? When it comes to lying in your Internet dating profile (which, statistically speaking, you probably will), exercise caution. Want to say you’re 5-foot-10 instead of 5-foot-8? Go ahead! Feel like describing yourself as a “natural” blonde? By all means. But you might want to reconsider, say, pretending to be a Stanford University undergraduate with leukemia in an effort to snag the football hunk of your dreams.

Really. That’s going to be a hard one to explain.

Katie McDonough is an assistant editor for Salon, focusing on lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>