Online dating research thesis

My research was intended to ascertain the relationship between online dating and Generation Y, in terms of what type of relationship they were looking for, their views on marriage and divorce, and what type of website would meet their needs best. Through my survey, I was able to learn what kind of format Generation Yers would be more comfortable with when it comes to meeting someone to date online, be it a mobile application, social networking website, virtual community, etc.

By asking questions about how Generation Yers use their current social networks, I was able to see if the social networks play a role in helping them find and develop romantic relationships. The first section I had in my survey asked participants about their definitions of commitment, hooking up, and dating. I wanted to see if all Generation Yers had similar definitions when it came to those words and I wanted to see if their definitions matched up with those outlined in my literature review. Additionally by asking about commitment, I hoped to find out what type of relationship they are interested in, to better understand what functions they would like their ideal dating platform to have.

Following that was the section on marriage and divorce, where I asked respondents about their ideal age to get married as well what they saw as the script for an ideal marriage in order to assess whether or not Generation Y is even interested in getting married. Furthermore, many of the women interviewed reported feeling he ld accountable for doing gender appropriately, even while engaged in Internet dating. This serendipity is culturally important we have a collective investment in the idea that love is a chance event, and often it is.

But serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is be coming more efficient. Rufus Griscom Wired Magazine Throughout history, human beings have courted and intimate relationships have been one of the most important pair bonds in society. These facts remain true even today. However, the process by which people court and form relationships has been altered with the advent of new technologies.

One such technology has been the rise of Internet dating sites. The formation of intimate relationships is becoming increasingly dependent on these online techn ologies, and because of this, researchers must understand the psychological and sociological intricacies associated with online dating. Researches have long studied how men and women view and treat intimate relationships differently.

Internet Dating and Doing Gender an Analysis of Womens Experiences Dating Online

The differences we s ee in regard to gendered performance in relationships are not static our society defines how men and women should behave in relationships. In the past few decades, our society has undergone numerous changes pertaining to how people treat and define relatio nships, the roles people perform in their relationships, and how relationships are initiated and maintained.

Internet daters are not immune to these gender scripts. This research will predominantly focus on the gender scripts of online daters in the United States, focusing predominantly on what is displayed in dating profiles and the rules associated with relationship formation. In doing PAGE 10 10 focusing on the ways people behave i n accordance with their gender and the types of sanctions in place when people do not behave accordingly.

Despite the growing popularity of the online dating industry, there is still a tremendous amount we do not understand about Internet dating and the people who use online dating services. This research will propose to further these avenues of thought and contribute to the research on Internet daters and dating. The goal of this study is to better understand gender scripts associated with initiating onl ine relationships.

Lawson and Leek found people who participate in Internet dating feel more comfortable with the Internet dating process than the traditional dating process because they are not expected to adhere to rigid gender stereotypic roles. If this is true, the initial process of Internet mediated relationships should show less conformity to traditional gender roles. The interviews conducted in this study will focus they behave and the ways in which they believe their date expects them to behave. Research Questions Every culture has unique gender scripts in regard to relationship formation and dating.

Although these scripts have changed over time in the United Stat es, they are still present. These scripts are also present when individuals meet and date others with the use of Internet dating services. This research will attempt to uncover the types of scripts that are present when individuals meet online. This resea relationship formation.

The major focus of the interviews is how female Internet daters For instance, do initiation strategies differ for women if they are PAGE 11 11 dating onlin e versus engaged in more traditional dating styles? How do the beginning stages of Internet mediated relationships differ from other more traditional relationships? Do women feel they are less committed to stereotypical gendered behavior online? These ques tions will shed light onto how and when initiation of intimate relationships occurs. For purposes of this research, initiation will be defined as a who sends the first message online to begin communication, b who initiates the first in person meeting, an d c who asks for the second in person meeting.

The interviews will many emails must be exchanged before phone numbers are exchanged, how many phone calls must be ex changed before a face to face date is set up, etc. The sociological work on gender sees gender as an institution, frame, or social structure to which everyone in society looks for behavioral guidance. West and Zimmerman whose competence as members of society is individuals, but something individuals do in their social interactions.

This behavior ptual, interactional, and micropolitical activities that cast particular pursuits as expressions of masculine and feminine constructs reproduced in social interactio ns. The authors explained that by taking i nto consideration race, class, and gender, a more thorough understanding of PAGE 13 13 Race, gender, and class are all accomplished in social interactions Risman also built upon the theory that people do gender.

Risman argued that gender should b e conceptualized as a social structure. She explained that by doing this, our understanding of gender will be advanced in several ways. First, it will help researchers analyze the interconnection between gendered selves, the cultural expectations that help explain interactional patterns, and institutional regulations. Second, the understating of gender as a structure will enrich theory this concept does not attempt to override other theories, but works to compliment them.

Third, it will allow us to investig ate the direction and strength of causal relationships between gendered phenomenon within many different dimensions. And last, is helps us understand institutional change and individual identities. When we begin to take into consideration how gender inequa lity is being produced within each dimension, we will be better equipped to intervene and change the structure.

She explains that gender inequalities are reproduced in everyday interactions, even if done so subconsciously. Furthermore, cultural gendered in teractional experiences make egalitarian heterosexual relationships extremely difficult to accomplish. Using structural language will help detangle how inequalities are constructed, recreated, and deconstructed. She argued that institutions guide the way people in a given society live and behave.

Classifying gender as a social institution allows researchers to understand why people continua are aware of it. Martin also offered several other reasons why framing gender as an PAGE 14 14 it highlights power, it reinstates the mate rial body, it acknowledges disjuncture, conflicts, and change, and it challenges the macro micro separation. The notion that gender should be conceptualized as a social structure Risman, or social institution Martin, extended the doing gender perspective.

Male and female behavior is reproduced through social interaction. Society provides its members with a blueprint on how to behave, dress, and think in accordance with their gender. Whether we refer to this social phenomenon as an institution or a structure, it comes back to West and Ridgeway discussed the ramifications of societal members not behaving within their gender norms. Ridgeway believed that people use gender as a primary frame to guide their behaviors and interactions with others.

Ridgeway aligns herself These categorizations are based on gender stereotypes and help us understand them and ourselves in relation to them. If behavior is not molded behavior. Because our society places so much emphasis on preconceived notions of appropriate masculine and feminine behaviors, we hold these notions true and sacred.

When they are not followed, our society punishes those who go against them. Similar to West and Zimmerman, R idgeway explains that gender is almost always a background identity for individuals and, in that way, becomes a way of acting. Therefore, in order to understand particular organizational or institutional structures on a more macro level PAGE 15 15 approach we must first be aware of the significance of the background effect of the society takes without taking into account the background effects of gender as a primary cultural frame for orga be deeply rooted in both macro and micro spheres.

There have been many criticisms of the doing difference approach. For instance, Collins et al. Collins only framework llins also critiqued oppression of race, class, and gender that produce positions characterized by really occurring in terms of oppression. Thorne , Weber , and Maldonado also offered criticism of class, and sexuality, we need a range of metaphors and theories honed in many sites of Similarly, Weber explain seems the overarchi PAGE 16 16 rooted systems of oppression and inequality in America.

In other words, it is not enough to simply say people are doi ng difference in regard to race, class, gender, and sexuality. West and Fenstermaker address this specific criticism by acknowledging that accomplishments of race, g ender, and class are embedded in history. They state that viewing these things as accomplishments help us understand how social structures are reproduced at any particular sociohistorical moment.

Many of the theorists who came after West and Zimmerman bui lt upon the idea gender; the research to date on gender in American society seems to agree that there are clear notions of how gender should be done. When these agreed u pon gendered behaviors are confused or not followed, there are consequences. These gendered analyzing how and where gender fits into society, academics hope to bring at tention to deep foundation of this proposed study.

Couples, the Internet, and Social Media

Gender is the predominant variable in this research. Internet daters as more than just passive participants, but as actors in a complex process of PAGE 17 17 America, will focus on a variety historical events that have shaped the way dating occurs today as well as different theories that explain the dating process. Gender and Dating In America There are a few crucial historical milestones that have shaped the way intimate relationships are viewed today.

Freer dating practiced in the United States coincided with the popularization of the automobile and telephone in the early s. With these technologies, teenagers were better able to meet in private without the supervision of parents. The feminist movem ent in the latter half of the 20 th century also changed the relationships. The feminist movement stressed equalitarian gender performance in the family and greater freedom for women t o explore their own sexuality.

The movement changed many dynamics within relationships. For instance, Rudman and Phelan found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported gr eater relationship stability and sexual these relationships were reported to have more quality, equality, and stability.

The advent of new forms of technology cell p hones, computers, the Internet has also shaped the structures of relationships and how relationships are initiated and and the Internet have facilitated communication and the formation of intimate relationships. Discussion of these technologies will be discussed in greater depth later in the paper. PAGE 18 18 There has been much research on dating in America, which has focused on a multitude of topics.

First, much research has been c onducted on the role of sex in relationships. The role of sex in relationships has been changing; it has become more socially acceptable for young adults to engage in sexual behaviors early in the be discussed, as well other common beliefs about sex and relationships. Second, research has focused on gender scripts during relationship formation and during the relationship. Third, many researchers have focused on evolutionary aspects of mate selection including the homogamy and filter theory.

Fourth, research on dating has analyzed how partner perception affects relationships. This research focuses on the principle of least interest and self perceptions in relationships. Last, some researchers have fo cused on the role of gender in personal advertisements or speed dating events. All of this research is relevant to the research on gender and dating. However, this particular study on Internet in which to view Internet dating practices. Role of Sex in Relationships The first area of research revolves around the changing role of sex in relationships.

Rose and Frieze explained that cultural norms for the first date are For instance, first dates are guided by stereotypes of gender. Men are expected to initiate, plan, and pay for the date while women are supposed to allure the man and facilitate conversation on PAGE 19 19 the first date.

However, it seems that what comes after the first date has changed substantially over the past few d ecades.

Online Dating & Relationships | Pew Research Center

The kind of dating that previous generations were familiar with is no longer common. Tom Wolfe , and American journalist, explained, Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing necking and getting to first base. Second bas e was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way.

That and girls have never heard of anything that dainty. Second base is oral sex.

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Third base is going all the way. Home plate is learning In other words, dating has changed from so mething done for functional purposes finding a lifetime partner , to something done for recreational purposes. Furthermore, Christopher and Sprecher found that societal values regarding dating have become more liberal in the past few decades.

The authors explained that because young adults are waiting longer to be married and because there are more lenient attitudes towards premarital sex, young adults are more sexually active and have more partners than they did in the past. Men and women are wait ing much longer to get married. In , the average age for first marriage for males was However, men and women are still engaging in sexual behaviors as frequently up until marriage; and studies show the ge nders perceive these behaviors differently, which will be discussed in greater depth below.

PAGE 20 20 aged women. The study yielded a few major findings: However, these students also reported desiring a more conventional relationship in the future. Bogle explained that college campuses have become sexual arenas, and that these arenas were permeated with double standards for gendered sexuality. Bogle foun d that more women than men were disappointed with hookups because they desired more conventional relationships.

The authors found that much behavior PAGE 21 21 Hamilton and Armstrong explain that women are often guided by a rela tional imperative that normal women should always want love, romance, relationships, and marriage. Morgan and Zurbriggen also explored how sexuality is used in heterosexual relationships. The authors explored the sexual and relational messages yo ung adults received from their first significant dating partner. The authors found that women reported receiving messages from male partners that indicated a high interest in sexual activity as well as pressure to engage in sexual activity.

Women often res ponded to theses messages by giving in to unwanted sex. However, many women set sexual boundaries. The authors noted that whereas men often established heteromasculinity through expressions of high sexual interest, female partners often balanced this appro ach with their own traditionally gendered displays of feminine virtue reining in male sexual desire and setting boundaries on sexual activity. The authors concluded that traditional gender scripts are still the predominant message in the early stages of first significant relationships.

Schmookler and Bursik analyzed how gender and gender role differences influenced the valuing of monogamy in emerging adults who were currently in heterosexual relationships. The authors found that men reported greate r distress with a women were found to value both emotional and sexual monogamy more than men. When male infidelity occurred, it generally occurred to satisfy sexual nee ds; when female infidelity occurred, it generally occurred to satisfy emotional needs.

The authors also found that both men and women regarded monogamy as equally relationship enhancing. All the participants of this study were unmarried college students t he only PAGE 22 22 prerequisite to take part in the study was to have been in a relationship for 6 months or more. Willoughby and Carroll explored the relationships between attitudes towards both marriage and cohabitation and sexual experience during emerging adulthood.

They found moderate evidence that marital attitudes are related to sexual experience but stro ng evidence of a relationship between attitudes towards cohabitation and sexual experience. Sexually active participants were more likely to have positive attitudes toward cohabitation. However, sexual intercourse in the past and the number of sexual partn ers did not seem to impact attitudes towards marriage with the exception of those who stated that being married was a very important goal for them.

Men and terms of sexuality and gender. Gender S cripts The second area of research revolves around gender scripts during relationship formation and the relationship. Although styles of dating are changing, men and women Most of the studies on gender and intimate relationships focus predominantly on how gender how men and women view relationships. Understanding gender as a social institut ion or frame from which our behavior are guided may help researchers understand the internal PAGE 23 23 workings of dating practices, whether these practices are traditional or modern facilitated by the Internet.

As was mentioned previously, men and women often gui de their behavior using gender scripts provided by the society in which we live. These scripts are present in every interaction, and are especially evident in courtship rituals. This is not to say that these scripts are static and unchanging, or that every one abides by them. These scripts are, however, evident in many cases. Below, some of the most prominent studies on gender and dating will be explored. Research shows that men and women begin intimate relationships differently; they have different initiat stages of a relationship.

One such study performed by Clark, Shaver, and Abrahams found that men tended to be more active and direct in the beginning stages of relational development and were more interested than women in the goal of sexual intimacy. The authors also found that women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men in the beginning stages of a relationship. Other research on gender scripts has focused on sex d ifferences in self disclosure. Self disclosure is seen a personality trait Dindia and Allen, , and there seem to be notable differences in this personality trait when comparing men and women.

Jourard , one of the first researchers to develop a self disclosure role requires men to appear tough, objective, striving, achieving, unsentimental, and structur e will not allow man to acknowledge or to disclose the entire breadth and depth of his inner experience to himself or others. Man seems obliged, rather, to hide much of his real self the PAGE 24 24 ongoing flow of his spontaneous inner experience from himself and oth ers Jourard, , p. Dindia and Allen found that gender differences in terms of self disclosure are not as large as previous researches suggested. They criticize the academic community for perpetuating the myth that there are large sex differe nces in self disclosure.

Commitment, Relationships, and Online Dating for Generation Y (Master’s Thesis)

West and Zimmerman would explain these differences in gender society, as Jourard explained, there are clear ideas of how men should behave Similarly, conversations containe d few unmitigated intimate stories only 2 out of Most of the romantic stories told by these men were done so because the men had serious concerns about issues such as losing their sense of independence or accepting or deflecting responsibility for mi stakes or poor choices they made in their relationship.

Feingold explained that empirical research has found several important qualities that influence mate selection for both genders: Early sociological research in the field found men focus more on physical attraction when filtering potential partners, whereas women are PAGE 25 25 more interested in socioecono mic status and ambitions of prospected partners Feingold, Sociologists explained that these differences were evolutionary important to the human species.

Women invest more energy into the rearing of children, and would like a man who is able to fi scally help. Men, on the other hand, and attracted to women who look as if they are young enough to reproduce. For years, academics have noted the importance of personality and values in mate selection.

Winch referred to the group of people meetin g our specifications as the similar characteristics. For example, people surround themselves with others who share the same religion, education, social class, and so on Winch explained: There is a set of variables upon which homogamy has been shown to function: It is my opinion that thes e variable function to select for each of is the sort of people with whom we shall be most likely to interact, to assure that the people with whom we work and with whom we play and with whom we otherwise associate are more or less like us with respect to t hat set of variables and also with respect to cultural interest and values.

In the sense that these variables determine with whom we shall y that we shall choose our spouses. Not PAGE 26 26 surprisingly, researchers have demon strated a positive association between marital satisfaction and similarities in terms of personality, attitudes, and beliefs Fowers and Olsen, Theories pertaining to the evolutionary basis of mate selection can also be boiled that they must behave in certain ways. Women are told they must be nurturing and stay home with children, and men are told they must be sexually active and be the primary breadwinners for the famil y.

As a result, it seems difficult to determine whether these behaviors have an evolutionary basis or whether they are simply learned behaviors. Partner Perception The fourth area of research revolves around h ow partner perceptions affect the relationsh ip. Another substantial part of the research focuses on men and women behave and negotiate their roles differently in relationships.

For instance, Sprecher, Schmeeckle, and Felmlee conducted a longitudinal study on couples dating and married t least interest in the relationship has more power over the conditions of the relationship. The c ouples were asked who they believed to have the most amount of emotional involvement in the relationship, who they believed had more control in the relationship, and how satisfied they were with the relationship. The authors found that their results upheld be perceived as the partner with less interest in and more control over the relationship.

PAGE 27 27 Similar to the Sprecher, Schmeeckle, and Felmlee Lydon tested the notion that women, and not men, perceive their dating partners perceptions. The authors sought to offer an explanation of this gender difference in relationship illusions. Their sample consisted of 47 he terosexual couples.

The couples were given questionnaires that addressed interpersonal characteristics and relationship commitment and satisfaction. The study those high in c self perceptions. The study also found that women involved in dating relationships showed relationship illusions irrespective of their commitment. The authors concluded that men needed to identify with and then commit to a specific relationship before they exhibit pro relationship thinking which women exhibit as a general disposition.

The associated wi th their relationship illusions. Role of Gender in Personal Advertisements and Speed Dating Lastly, before the Internet dating services became popular, American society used a variety of other tactics to meet potential partners such as placing personal a dvertisements, and attending speed dating events. Goode found that there were still differences between what men and women looked for in personal advertisements. Men were far more influenced by looks and women were more influenced by success.

The authors found that women put greater weight on the intelligence and race of a potential partner during speed dating events, while men PAGE 28 28 responded more to physical attractivenes s. From these previous studies, it seems safe to speculate that men and women often value different characteristics in their partners; evolution based theory of mate selection, as was explained above.

All of the research on gender and dating in America can be explained by men e societal standards for doing gender appropriately. These standards include a general liberalization of sexuality although women are still expected to be less promiscuous than men , men being tough and not needing to self disclose, women being nurturing, ideas about how men and women should initiate relationships, and what men and women should look for in potential partners.

Although not explicitly stated, all of these theories can be explained by West trends have carried on into technologically mediated relationships, such a s Internet Dating. In the next section of this literature review, the history of Internet Dating will be Internet Dating Subculture Inte rnet dating has become much more common in the past decade. In , a website named Match. In , Guinness World Today, Match.

Research shows that certain demographics are overrepresented in online dating sites. Internet daters tend to be below 35 years old, well educated, employed, and have high incomes Brym and Lenton, They are more likely to be men than women, more likely to be single or divorced, and live in urban areas Brym and Lenton. Madden and Lenhart reported younger cohorts, ages 18 29 are the main users of Internet dating sites, with 18 percent of all online adults in that age group having visited a dating site.


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Madden and Lenhart reported 11 percent of online adults ages 30 49 have visited online dating sites, while 6 percent of those ages 50 64 and 3 percent of those aged 65 and older have tried online dating sites. Step hure et al. PAGE 30 30 Madden and Lenhart also found that most online daters tend to identify with more liberal social attitudes, compared with all Americans or all internet users: Brym and Lenton explained that there are four major trends occurring in our society today that help explain the popularity of Internet dating.

First, there is a growing number of singles in ou r society. These singles are turning to the Internet to help find potential partners. Second, more individuals are experiencing increased career and time pressures. Many people report working longer hours now than they had in the past. Brym and Lenton expl single p eople today are more mobile than they were in the past. As a result, many singles report that it is difficult to meet people for dating and form intimate relationships.

Last, workplace romance is on the decline. Employers are becoming more sensitive to sex ual harassment and taking disciplinary action when romantic relationships are PAGE 31 31 formed at work. These four trends can help explain the increased rates of membership for Internet dating sites today. Even though meeting potential partners through the Internet has become increasingly common, most couples in the United States still first met through face to face encounters.

Madden and Lenhart polled American partners and found 38 percent first met at work or school, 34 percent met through family or friend s, 13 percent met at a nightclub, bar, caf, or other social gathering, three percent met through the Internet, two percent met at church, one percent met by chance, such as on the street, one percent met because they lived in the same neighborhood, one pe rcent met at a recreational facility like a gym, and one percent met on a blind date or through a dating service. Furthermore, according to a U.

I t is important to note that there is a lack of scholarly research on these statistics; it seems most of this research is conducted by Internet dating sites or companies hired by these sites. The research on Internet dating and daters have included a variety of topics, some of which will be discussed below. First, academics have begun to analyze of Internet dating applies to early theories of mate selection; for instance, the homogamy and filter theory. Second, researchers have analyzed that stated motivations of individuals to use online dating sites. Third, there has been research on the role of culture in online dating sites and dating scripts.

Fourth, there has been much research on the role of self disclosure and authentic it y in online dating. These four areas of research will be exami ned, as well as how these research findings may be explained by Internet Dating and Mate Selection Theories The first area of research on Internet dating has focused on how earlier theories of mate selection have effected Internet daters and online dating sites. Online dating sites have long acknowledged that there is a science that goes into matching people.

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University was recently employed by chemistry. She spent the last 3 decades figuring out why love ma kes us go weak in the knees and causes our hearts to skip a beat. Her research Helen PAGE 33 33 Fisher studies the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, and gender differences in the brain. Helen Fisher has also conducted research on how personality types influence mate selection www. For years, academics have noted the impor tance of personality and values in mate selection.

With the popularization of the Internet in the s, social interactions and encounters began to change, specifically in regard to the meeting and filtering process of potential partners. Internet dating sites allow individuals to easily search, sort, and filter for desired demographics or personality traits of other users.

These types of networking sites also allow an expansion of socia l networks and discovered many people were drawn to online dating sites because t hey allow one to travel outside of their normal range of potential mates. Internet dating allowed them to travel outside their immediate social networks and contact others who may not necessarily live in their geographic region or take part in similar day to day activities.

Online dating sites paid attention to these mate selection theories and have used them to the ir advantage to sell memberships. The structure of online dating sites often PAGE 34 34 reflects the importance of homogamy theory in mate selection. Within this type of dating site, there are both mainstream systems and subpopulation systems. Mainstream systems include a broad base of users from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic specifications with a search function.

Personals are examples of mainstream systems. Subpopulation systems attempt to serve a specific subpopulation. Other popular dating sites are those that match personali ties of members. To desires, personality tests have become a more popular feature Sites like eHarmony or Tickle employ such tests and match users with others who share si milar personality traits. For example, eHarmony asks users to answer questions about their demographics age, education, income, height, ethnicity, religion , and personality interests, energy level, likes and dislikes eHarmony.

These tests assume people prefer homogeneous partners, and match users bas ed on similarities in their answers. However, a few academics have begun questioning the effectiveness of these personality tests Houran, ; Finn and PAGE 35 35 Banach, ; Naglieri et al. Houran millions of singles are making life changing decisions based on compatibility tests that rigorou s reviews of these personality tests should take place. Personality has been an issue studies in psychology. Many psychologists believe people are born with predispositions for certain personalities.

Sociologists, such as West and Zimmerman, believe peopl e learn their personality through social interactions. The nature nurture debate has been a long standing debate in academia for years. This paper argues on the side of nurture. Men and women learn their personality, and how to ocial interactions.


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Furthermore, men and women are trained to look for certain characteristics in potential partners. Therefore, it seems no large surprise that experts are able to zero in on personality characteristics that attract one another; they all h ave the training of American society as a common denominator.

Motivations of Internet Daters The second area of research has focused on the motivations of individuals to use online dating sites. Lawson and Leek outlined six stated motivations of I nternet daters. First, many respondents reported that they were lonely and in need of companionship, emotional support, and communication. Second, many respondents had just got through some sort of life crisis such as a family member death or a divorce. Th ese respondents claimed Internet dating provided them with the needed social support after a crisis; often, they reported a better quality of living after they started using the dating site.

Third, Internet dating allowed respondents to control their PAGE 36 36 prese ntation and environment.


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Many women reported that they felt safer meeting men online rather than in a bar or club. Furthermore, Lawson and Leek found many women, in order to control their presentation, generally described themselves and thinner and taller than they really were in their profiles. Fourth, respondents reported feeling like they were freer from commitment and gender stereotypic roles when dating online. For instance, respondents reported that when dating online, it is appropriate for women to m ake the initial contact.

Fifth, respondents reported preferring Internet dating because they perceived it to be an adventure. Many claimed Internet dating was more exciting than visiting a local bar or nightclub in search of potential partners. Last, some Internet daters believed online dating was a romantic fantasy. These daters claimed that in online dating, you are able to construct a fake environment where you can pretend to be someone else. Brym and Lenton discovered several other motivations f or Internet dating.

First, online dating created opportunities for many individuals to meet others they would have normally never met. Internet dating allowed individuals to travel outside their immediate social networks and contact others who may not nece ssarily live in their geographic region or take part in similar day to day activities. Second, respondents reported preferring Internet dating because it is private and confidential.

Users can search for potential partners in the comfort of their own home in relative anonymity. Last, Internet dating is convenient. Users can post one profile and search for as many people as they would like using certain search guidelines. Users can respond to those they are interested in and ignore others in which they are n ot interested. Of the seven largest Internet dating sites, four are based in the United States while t he other three are based in the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada Brym and Lenton, Based in the United States, Match.

While love is universal, the way people meet, court and develop relationships cultures. For instance, Farrer and Gavin researched the use of Match. The rese examine how and to what extent Japanese online daters overcame the limitations of computer mediated communication through the use of contextual and other cues. They found that many Japanese focus on implicit communication such as body language, the use of silence, and implying meaning through what is not said. There is acquire social information using the cues that the online dating platform provides [sic], example, much implicit information was conveyed by the way profiles were written.

Many profiles used emoticons and other nonlinguistic symbols to hint at emotional tone or personality traits. While the use of emoticons and other nonlinguistic symbols are also seen in profiles in the United States Lawson and Leck, , they seem to hold less significance than their use in Japanese profiles.

S elf Disclosure and Authenticity in Online Dating The fourth area of research has focused on the role of self disclosure and authenticity in online dating. Most research to date has focused on Internet dating and identity management and creation. A few st udies have focused on the role of trust in Internet dating and how individuals sometimes lie on their profile in order to manage their identity.

For instance, when people do lie on their profiles, it is generally about personality traits they wish to chang e. In other words, Internet dating profiles may represent more of whom users wish they were than who they really are. Yurchisin, for at these hoped for possible selves PAGE 39 39 offline but also to have those possible selves validated through both online and offline hors believed online identity is fluid, and online profiles allow users to try on different personalities and identities. Hardey also researched the role of authenticity in Internet courtship.

Brym and Lenton discussed briefly the role of Some people misrepresent themselves respondents confessed to misrepresenting themselves, especially about their age. Fourteen percent of their respondents said they had misrep resented their age, followed by marital status 10 percent , and appearance 10 percent. Lawson and Leck few seem to give much thought to what usually could be di smissed as a makeover of available to the respondents about each other in Internet interactions and their transitory hravesringkan, and McCabe provided by the Internet, as compared to face to face interactions, allows individuals to present aspects of their current perceptions of themselve s that they would not ordinarily Internet that often allows for misrepresentations.

PAGE 40 40 Similar to the research on authenticity, many studies have looked at the ways in which people attempt to build trust through the creation of their profiles. Hardey nitial descriptions of their lives, which include details of why they are trying to meet a new t of email relationship with them. As was explained above, authenticity of emails and exchanges is often tested when the initial meeting occurs. Yurchisin, Watchravesringkan, and McCabe also found that there is a strong desire amongst dating site users to be honest or truthful about themselves in their profiles.

Still, in one study on Internet daters, 82 percent of respondents believed one of the largest disadvantages of on line dating is people not telling you the truth about themselves Brym and Lenton, In this study, women were significantly more likely than men to report this as a disadvantage. Furthermore, 72 percent of respondents in the same study believed the p eople they met online were hiding something. Again, women were more likely to report this being a significant disadvantage of Internet dating Brym and Lenton, The 11 people with whom Brym and Lenton conducted in depth interviews agreed unanimously that the number one disadvantage of online dating is that some people purposely misrepresent themselves.

The researchers recruited 1, adult subjects from the Los Angeles and asked them about their demographics, use of various PAGE 41 41 communication technologies, and their experience with online dating. The results indicated that the amount of emotionality and self disclosure affected a person perception of a potential partner.

In general, higher levels of self disclosing messages were seen as reflecting a more positive and open person. However, online daters had a slightly higher tendency to prefer the person with the least self disclosure. Traditional daters were split between the lowest and highest self disclosers. Furthermore, male online daters actually preferred both high and low self disclosures over moderate ones, whereas women preferred lower levels of self disclosure. This study, lik e most the other studies on Internet dating, dealt mostly with young college educated participants. However, overall this seemed to be a strong study with good methodologies.

Merkle and Richardson researched the significance of infidelity as a sour ce of betrayal in online relationships. The researchers found that in online facilitated relationships, the definition of infidelity is often broadened to include more than just sexual behavior. They explained that because of the emphasis placed on emotion al closeness in online Richardson also noted that choosing to self disclose to more than one person at a time wa s considered infidelity to some Internet daters.

Numerous researchers who have studied Internet dating have called for further research. First, Merkle and Richardson believe more research is needed to ed relationships define the boundaries of betrayal, and whether infidelity is as destructive to such relationships as it is in non PAGE 42 42 been on several dates with someone y ou met online and they still have their profile active on the dating site? Is it considered betrayal if the person you met online is currently chatting with several other potential partners?

Second, Stephure et al. Fourth, Fiore and Donath believe future research should consider building detailed models of which characteristi cs people seek most in online personals. Fiore and Donath also think an ethnographic study of a small number of users would and how the systems affect their concepti seems to be a lack of research addressing the role of stigma in Internet dating.

For instance, does shame or stigma associated with Internet dating affect relationships? These are all potential avenues for future research. Personality, motivation, and issues surrounding self disclosure are all psychological areas of research. It seems that most the research on Internet dating has been carried out with a psychological lens. Because this is a sociological research study, this paper will be conducted under the lens of sociological principles.

It is important to note that psychology and sociology are not that different. Psychology studies the person and the mind. Sociology studies society and the impact of society on the individual. Because we are all members of a society, our behaviors and thoughts PAGE 43 43 are guided by principles of society. Therefore, the fields of psychology and sociology cannot and should not be separated, as they work together to understand the complex analyze ways in which men and women behave in our society.

This theory best intimate relationsh Implications As was noted above, Clarke, Shaver, and Abrahams found that men tended to be more active and direc t in the beginning stages of relational development whereas women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men in the beginning stages of a relationship. This study pertained to traditional face to face dating.

It will be interesting to deter mine whether Internet daters behave similarly, or if they have broken free from the more traditional gender roles. Studies that have examined motivations of Internet daters have explained women are drawn to online dating because it provides them with more agency and freedom from stereotypical gender roles Lawson and Leck, In other words, women are less likely to adhere the initial contact. With the security that ari ses from Internet dating, and the agency it provides women, it seems likely that there will be more equalitarian initiation practices in Internet relationship formation.

To date, there has been no research addressing this important issue. PAGE 44 44 Furthermore, hom ogamy theory may be loosing some credibility as Internet dating sites and others newer forms of meeting partners become a more popular way of meeting potential partners. For instance, Luo and Zhang found no evidence of the homogamy theory in their analysis of speed dating events. This makes sense more on our environment i. With newer ways of meeting others, many people outside our day to day activities are accessible. Researchers have demonstrated a positive association between marital satisfaction and similarities in terms of personality, attitudes, and beliefs Fowers and Olsen, Because of the decre ased emphasis placed on homogamy with the rise of Internet dating services, relationships formed online may report decreased satisfaction over time.

To suggest possible answers to a few of the research questions proposed at the beginning of this proposal: Results will likely find much difference in initiation strategies when focusing on gender and Internet dating. Additionally, it is likely that results will indicate that women feel they are better able to initiate relationships are able to be more direct in their initiation online versus in person and that men and women are less person.

Furthermore, the business applications of such a study are important. Because more and more people use the Internet to begin relationships, there is a need for more research and information on Internet dating. She was asked to assist PAGE 45 45 chemistry. If this study were to find men and women approach Internet dating differently, the results may help companies cater their sites to the uniqu e preferences of their female and male members. In sum, shedding light on how men and women initiate online relationships may potentially assist in the development of Internet dating sites.

Justification for using Qualitative Interviews One major weaknesses of previous research on intimate relationships and gender is the relative lack of qualitative methods in research on intimate relationships and gender Because of the nature of complex research questions pertaining to intimacy and gend er, the use of qualitative methods should yield richer data.

Furthermore, many of the research variables pertaining to intimate relationships are difficult to study. As a result, this study will employ in depth interviews with online daters. Using qualita tive interviewing to study online dating would be beneficial for many reasons. First, dating is a private endeavor and interviews would help the researcher understand what thought process is involved in choosing partners, and what emotions are involved in the dating process.

Matthews explained that because marriage and family life is generally private and not open to participant observation, understanding the intricacies of such lives could only be accomplished through interviewing. Furthermore, Clar k, Shaver, and Abrahams study of initiation strategies noted that much of what happens when initiating a relationship occurs below the observational level and is therefore very difficult to study.

Because of this, using unstructured interviewing may help uncover common theme s associated with online dating and Internet daters which has not been yet been explored. A few examples of Internet dating research using interviews will be provided below. Yurchisin, Watchravesringkan, and McCabe used semi structured interviews i n their exploratory study on identity creation and recreation in online dating profiles. The authors explained they chose to use interviews so that respondents could express themselves freely and explain their actions. The authors used specific questions a p.

In this way, the researchers were able to derive common themes: Lawson and Leck used in depth, informal interviews to understand the motivations of Internet daters, their styles of courtship, and how they negotiated problems associated with trust and deception. These in depth interviews were coded for themes that arose; such as trust, time, risk and need satisfaction. Because of the scarcity of previous research regarding Internet c ourtship, open ended interviews were essential to pull out these themes.

Couch and Liamputtong used in depth, online chat interviews to understand what extent online daters use Internet dating sites to meet sexual partners. The authors explained th at using in and seek clarification from participants and it allowed participants to articulate their lived PAGE 47 47 experiences and to participate in a two p.

The aut hors also believed their use of online chats enhanced the validity of the responses they received. Because online chats provide a sense of anonymity, the researchers believed respondents were more comfortable discussing private or stigmatized behaviors or activities. Interviews are focus ed perceptions of their experiences on the dating site how they do internet dating , including gendered attributes and behaviors how they do gender. The interview sample for this study consist s of never married, heterosexual women between the ages of 18 When recruiting participants, each volunteer was screened according to their gender, sexual orientation, age, and marital status.

Furthermore, volunteers were asked to disclose which Internet dating site they use in order to determine whether their motivations are in line with the requirements of this research. Only volunteers using Internet dating sites that advertise themselves as were accepted These sites included but were not limited to, businesses such as match. All volunteers had a stated motivation of wishing to find a committed relationship from their Intern et dating site pa rticipation.

Dating sites where people use sites for purposes of initiating physical or cyber sexual encounters w ere not included. There are multitudes of different dating sites, most of which were considered legitimate for purposes of thi s paper and research. The data in this study resulted from 30 interviews. Saturation seemed to occur at 30 interviews In other words, i nterviews yielded no new information at 30 participants. The ad s refer red gender component o f the research.

Volunteers were asked to email the researcher to determine eligibility and, if eligible, to set up an interview date and time. Interviews were conducted in person or over a face to face Internet chat system such as Skype or i Chat. If the participant preferred interviewing over an Internet chat system, an appointment w as set up allowing for one hour of unobstructed face time and the informed consent w as emailed to them.

In the beginning of each interview, the participants were asked to read the informed consent. In this, the participants were ensured their confidentiality would be kept: The websites the participants use d for Internet dating would be disclosed, but the specific interview data w ould not be linked with particular datin g sites.

As the first interviews we re coded discussed below , theoretical sampling occur red Theoretical sampling sought and collect ed pertinent data to develop and refine the categories constructed during coding Chamaz, For example, if codes cont inually found that women in graduate school report less conformity to gender stereotypes, the theoretical sampling should be guided in the direction of women in graduate school in order to explore the specific category at greater length.

PAGE 50 50 Interviews Qualitative interviews can occur in many settings, ranging from unstructured interactions to formal interviews with respondents. The purpose of interviewing, perspec unstructured interviewing, semi structured interviewing, and structured interviewing. Informal interviewing generally lacks structure.