Handling Impressions On The Web: Self-Presentation Processes into the Online Dating Sites Environment

Handling Impressions On The Web: Self-Presentation Processes into the Online Dating Sites Environment

Nicole Ellison, Rebecca Heino, Jennifer Gibbs, Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes when you look at the online dating sites Environment, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, amount 11, problem 2, 1 January 2006, Pages 415–441


This research investigates self-presentation techniques among internet dating participants, checking out just exactly how individuals handle their online presentation of self to be able to accomplish the purpose of finding a intimate partner. Thirty-four individuals active for a large dating that is online took part in phone interviews about their internet dating experiences and perceptions. Qualitative information analysis implies that individuals dealt with tiny cues online, mediated the tension between impression management pressures while the want to provide a traditional feeling of self through techniques such as for example developing a profile that reflected their “ideal self, ” and attempted to ascertain the veracity of the 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 social norms surrounding technology-mediated relationship development and also to gain understanding of important areas of online behavior, such as for example impression formation 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 new concept development (Walther & Parks, 2002). Although past studies have 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 distinctive from a great many other online settings as a result of the anticipation of face-to-face discussion inherent in this context (Gibbs, Ellison, & Heino, 2006) additionally the undeniable fact that social techniques will always 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 least 29 million People in the us (two away from five singles) utilized an on-line relationship solution (Gershberg, 2004); in 2004, on average, there have been 40 million unique people to online dating services every month when you look at the U.S. (CBC Information, 2004). In reality, the internet personals category is among the many profitable types of premium content on the internet in the usa (Egan, 2003) as well as the internet dating market is likely to achieve $642 million in 2008 (Greenspan, 2003). Ubiquitous use of the web, the diminished social stigma connected with online dating sites, as well as the affordable price of online matchmaking services donate to the increasingly typical perception that online dating is a practicable, efficient method to meet relationship or long-lasting relationship lovers (St. John, 2002). Mediated matchmaking is maybe perhaps not really a phenomenon that is new magazine personal adverts have actually existed because the mid-19th century (Schaefer, 2003) and movie relationship had been popular within the 1980s (Woll & Cosby, 1987; Woll & Young, 1989). Although scholars working in many different educational procedures have actually examined these earlier in the day kinds of mediated matchmaking ( e.g., Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992; Lynn & Bolig, 1985; Woll, 1986; Woll & Cosby, 1987), present Internet online dating services are substantively distinct from these incarnations because of the bigger individual base and much more advanced self-presentation choices.

Modern theoretical views let us advance our comprehension of the way the age-old procedure of mate-finding is changed through online methods and habits. As an example, Social Suggestions Processing (SIP) theory as well as other frameworks help illuminate communication that is computer-mediatedCMC), interpersonal sexsearch interaction, and impression management processes. This short article centers on the ways by which CMC interactants handle their self-presentation that is online and to our familiarity with these methods by examining these problems when you look at the naturalistic context of online dating sites, making use of qualitative information collected from in-depth interviews with online dating sites individuals.

Literature Review

This article reflects a social shaping perspective in contrast to a technologically deterministic perspective that focuses on the characteristics of the technologies themselves, or a socially deterministic approach that privileges user behavior. Social shaping of technology approaches (Dutton, 1996; MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1985; Woolgar, 1996) acknowledge the ways that information and interaction technologies (ICTs) both form and therefore are shaped by social methods. As Dutton points down, “technologies can start, near, and otherwise contour choices that are social but not always within the methods anticipated on such basis as rationally extrapolating through the sensed properties of technology” (1996, p. 9). One framework that is specific reflects this process is Howard’s (2004) embedded news viewpoint, which acknowledges both the capabilities and also the constraints of ICTs. Capabilities are the ones components of technology that enhance our power to connect to each other, enact modification, and so forth; constraints are the ones areas of technology that hinder our capacity to attain these objectives. A essential element of technology usage, which will be mentioned yet not clearly highlighted in Howard’s framework, may be the notion of circumvention, which defines the precise techniques utilized by people to exploit the capacities and minmise the constraints related to their usage of ICTs. Even though idea of circumvention is unquestionably perhaps not a new comer to CMC scientists, this informative article seeks to emphasize the significance of circumvention methods when learning the social facets of technology usage. 1

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

Self-presentation and self-disclosure procedures are crucial areas of relational development in offline settings (Taylor & Altman, 1987), particularly in first stages. Goffman’s work on self-presentation explicates the ways that someone may participate in strategic activities “to convey the feeling to other people which its in the interests 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 downered off (presumably unintentional interaction, such as for instance nonverbal communication cues). Self-presentation techniques are specially essential during relationship initiation, as other people will make use of this information to choose whether or not to pursue a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987). Analysis suggests that whenever people be prepared to fulfill a prospective relationship partner the very first time, they are going to change their self-presentational behavior prior to the values desired because of the prospective date (Rowatt, Cunningham, & Druen, 1998). Even though getting together with strangers, individuals have a tendency to take part in self-enhancement (Schlenker & Pontari, 2000).