Handling Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes when you look at the Online Dating Sites Environment

Handling Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes when you look at 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, exploring exactly how individuals handle their online presentation of self so that you can accomplish the purpose of finding a intimate partner. Thirty-four individuals active for a large online dating service took part in telephone interviews about their internet dating experiences and perceptions. Qualitative information analysis shows that individuals taken care of little cues online, mediated the tension between impression administration pressures therefore the want to provide a traditional feeling of self through strategies such as for example developing a profile that reflected their “ideal self, ” and attempted to ascertain the veracity of these identification claims. This research provides empirical help for Social Ideas Processing concept in a naturalistic context and will be offering understanding of the complicated method by which “honesty” is enacted online.


The internet dating arena represents a chance to report changing cultural norms surrounding technology-mediated relationship development also to gain understanding of essential areas of online behavior, such as for example 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 solely online relationships and offer possibilities for brand new concept development (Walther & Parks, 2002). Although past research has explored relationship development and self-presentation online (Bargh, McKenna, & Fitzsimons, 2002; McLaughlin, Osbourne, & Ellison, 1997; Parks & Floyd, 1996; Roberts & Parks, 1999; Utz, 2000), the internet dating forum is qualitatively distinct from a number of other online settings as a result of expectation of face-to-face relationship inherent in this context (Gibbs, Ellison, & Heino, 2006) while the undeniable fact that social techniques continue to be nascent.

The use of online dating or online personals services has evolved from a marginal to a mainstream social practice in recent years. In 2003, at the very least 29 million People in america (two away from five singles) utilized an internet dating service (Gershberg, 2004); in 2004, an average of, there have been 40 million unique people to online dating services every month into the U.S. (CBC Information, 2004). In reality, the internet personals category is amongst the most profitable kinds of premium content on the internet in the united states of america (Egan, 2003) therefore the online dating sites marketplace is anticipated to achieve $642 million in 2008 (Greenspan, 2003). Ubiquitous usage of the online world, the diminished social stigma associated with online dating sites, together with affordable price of Web matchmaking services donate to the increasingly typical perception that online dating is a practicable, efficient solution to meet relationship or long-lasting relationship lovers (St. John, 2002). Mediated matchmaking is obviously maybe maybe not really a brand new occurrence: magazine personal adverts have actually existed because the mid-19th century (Schaefer, 2003) and video clip dating ended up being popular within the 1980s (Woll & Cosby, 1987; Woll & younger, 1989). Although scholars involved in a number of educational procedures have actually examined these earlier in the day types of mediated matchmaking ( e.g., Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992; Lynn & Bolig, 1985; Woll, 1986; Woll & Cosby, 1987), present Internet online dating services are substantively not the same as these incarnations because of the 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 for 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), social interaction, and impression management procedures. This short article is targeted on the methods by 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 data collected from in-depth interviews with online dating sites individuals.

Literature Review

Contrary to a technologically deterministic perspective that centers around the faculties associated with technologies by themselves, or even a socially deterministic approach that privileges individual behavior, this informative article reflects a social shaping viewpoint. Social shaping of technology approaches (Dutton, 1996; MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1985; Woolgar, 1996) acknowledge the ways swinging heaven usa that information and interaction technologies (ICTs) both form and generally are shaped by social methods. As Dutton points down, “technologies can start, close, and otherwise contour social choices, but not constantly when you look at the methods anticipated on such basis as rationally extrapolating through the recognized properties of technology” (1996, p. 9). One particular framework that reflects this process is Howard’s (2004) embedded news viewpoint, which acknowledges both the capabilities while the constraints of ICTs. Capabilities are the ones facets of technology that enhance our capability to relate genuinely to the other person, enact modification, therefore forth; constraints are the ones facets of technology that hinder our capability to attain these objectives. An aspect that is important of usage, which can be mentioned not clearly highlighted in Howard’s framework, could be the idea of circumvention, which describes the precise methods used by people to exploit the capabilities and reduce the constraints connected with their utilization of ICTs. Even though idea of circumvention is perhaps not a new comer to CMC scientists, this short article seeks to highlight the significance of circumvention methods whenever learning the social components of technology usage. 1

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

Self-presentation and processes that are self-disclosure essential components of relational development in offline settings (Taylor & Altman, 1987), particularly in initial phases. Goffman’s work on self-presentation explicates the real ways that a person may take part in strategic activities “to convey an impact to other people which it really is in their passions to convey” (1959, p. 4). These impression-management habits consist of expressions offered (interaction into the sense that is traditional e.g., spoken interaction) and expressions provided down (presumably unintentional interaction, such as for instance nonverbal interaction cues). Self-presentation techniques are specially crucial during relationship initiation, as other people will make use of this information to determine whether or not to pursue a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987). Research implies that whenever people be prepared to fulfill a possible relationship partner the very first time, they will certainly change their self-presentational behavior relative to the values desired because of the potential date (Rowatt, Cunningham, & Druen, 1998). Even though getting together with strangers, people have a tendency to take part in self-enhancement (Schlenker & Pontari, 2000).

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