Researchers Found One Mistake You're Making in Your Online Dating Profile

August 3rd 2016

Almie Rose

When you set up an online dating profile, you're probably going to post a glorious selfie as opposed to that one Facebook photo you untagged so quickly you got whiplash. Put your best foot forward, right?

Well, that may actually be wrong.

A new study from Crystal D. Wotipka & Andrew C. High published by Routledge takes a closer look at what we think of as our "idealized selves," which is what we project on our dating profiles. The researchers found that the more carefully curated a profile, the less trustworthy the person seems to potential matches.

The dating details

They call this act of making a perfect profile "selective self-preservation" (SSP). Some dating websites encourage such SSP by encouraging users to brag when setting up their profile, but this has been shown to backfire.

The researchers also looked at what they call "warranting," which in the study means providing information about your achievements and accomplishments on a dating profile with evidence, like a link to another website or an easily Google-able claim. Think of it as providing sources.

How the study worked

Researchers created four dating profiles with various combinations of high and low SSP and high and low warranting that were then shown to 316 online daters, the majority of whom were male and white.

The online daters were then randomly assigned one of these fake profiles and asked to complete a survey focusing on trustworthiness of the profile and the likelihood of dating the person based on their profile. Profiles with high SSP meant more positive info than profiles with lower SSP, while profiles with more warranting (or, sources) had more details than profiles with less warranting.

Examples of SSP and warranting in dating profiles

For example, in the "I'm really good at" section, a profile with higher warranting had the name and link to a blog, while profiles with less warranting simply said something like they had a "cool new blog."

Profiles with higher SSP said the blog had tons of followers and it was created because the founder of a major company asked the person in the profile to create it. Profiles with a lower SSP sort of shrugged the blog success or creation of it off by saying it was a "grassroots kind of thing," thus downplaying their blog's status and success.

Basically, higher SSP meant more bragging; lower SSP meant less bragging.

What makes for the best profile?

Here's what researchers found: being "humble" and "real" in your dating profile is your best bet. By "real" they basically mean somewhat flawed. And if you combine these two traits, researchers found that you might appear to be more trustworthy.

They also found that warranting helps create a positive view of yourself as well. While they acknowledge that many dating websites don't allow third-party links, anything you can include to show you are a legit person is a plus, as long as you don't go overboard (read: braggy).

Basically, it really comes down to one thing: trust. The biggest mistake you can make is crafting a profile that's too perfect. That's because it makes people doubt if they can trust you, like you don't seem "real."

[h/t Washington Post]