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

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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 into the internet dating Environment, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 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 manage their online presentation of self to be able to achieve the purpose of finding a intimate partner. Thirty-four people active on a large dating that is online took part in phone interviews about their internet dating experiences and perceptions. Qualitative information analysis implies that individuals taken care of tiny cues online, mediated the tension between impression administration pressures additionally the need 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 these identity claims. This research provides empirical help for Social Ideas Processing concept in a naturalistic context and will be offering understanding of the complicated manner in which “honesty” is enacted online.


The dating that is online represents a way to report changing social norms surrounding technology-mediated relationship formation and also to gain understanding of crucial areas of online behavior, such as for example impression development and self-presentation methods. Mixed-mode relationships, wherein individuals very first meet on the web and then go offline, challenge established theories that focus on solely online relationships and supply possibilities for brand 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 distinct from a great many other online settings as a result of expectation of face-to-face discussion inherent in this context (Gibbs, Ellison, & Heino, 2006) and also the undeniable fact that social techniques remain nascent.

The use of online dating or online personals services has evolved from a marginal to a mainstream social practice in recent years. Each month in the U.S. (CBC News, 2004) in 2003, at least 29 million Americans (two out of five singles) used an online dating service (Gershberg, 2004); in 2004, on average, there were 40 million unique visitors to online dating sites. In reality, the web personals category is just one of the most profitable kinds of paid content on the internet in the us (Egan, 2003) therefore the online dating sites marketplace is likely to achieve $642 million in 2008 (Greenspan, 2003). Ubiquitous use of the online world, the diminished stigma that is social with internet dating, together with affordable price of Web matchmaking services donate to the increasingly typical perception that online dating is a possible, efficient solution to meet relationship or long-term relationship partners (St. John, 2002). Mediated matchmaking is perhaps not really a brand new trend: magazine personal ads have actually existed considering that the mid-19th century (Schaefer, 2003) and video clip dating ended up being popular into the 1980s (Woll & Cosby, 1987; Woll & younger, 1989). Although scholars working in many different educational procedures have actually examined these earlier in the day kinds of mediated matchmaking ( ag e.g., Ahuvia & Adelman, friendfinder-x 1992; Lynn & Bolig, 1985; Woll, 1986; Woll & Cosby, 1987), present Internet online dating services are substantively not the same as these incarnations for their bigger individual base and much more advanced self-presentation choices.

Contemporary theoretical views let us advance our knowledge of how a age-old means of mate-finding is changed through online methods and actions. As an example, Social Ideas Processing (SIP) theory as well as other frameworks help illuminate computer-mediated interaction (CMC), interpersonal interaction, and impression management procedures. This short article is targeted on the methods for which CMC interactants handle their online self-presentation and contributes to our familiarity with these methods by examining these problems into the naturalistic context of internet dating, utilizing qualitative information collected from in-depth interviews with online dating sites individuals.

Literature Review

As opposed to a technologically deterministic perspective that centers around the traits associated with the technologies by themselves, or perhaps a socially deterministic approach that privileges individual behavior, this short article reflects a social shaping viewpoint. Social shaping of technology approaches (Dutton, 1996; MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1985; Woolgar, 1996) acknowledge the real ways information and interaction technologies (ICTs) both form and therefore are shaped by social techniques. As Dutton points down, “technologies can start, near, and otherwise contour social choices, but not constantly when you look at the methods anticipated on such basis as rationally extrapolating through the observed properties of technology” (1996, p. 9). One framework that is specific reflects this process is Howard’s (2004) embedded news perspective, which acknowledges both the capacities in addition to constraints of ICTs. Capabilities are the ones facets of technology that enhance our capacity to relate genuinely to the other person, enact modification, and thus forth; constraints are the ones areas of technology that hinder our capacity to attain these objectives. A important element of technology usage, which can be mentioned although not clearly highlighted in Howard’s framework, could be the idea of circumvention, which defines the precise techniques used by people to exploit the capabilities and minimize the constraints related to their usage of ICTs. Even though the idea of circumvention is unquestionably perhaps not a new comer to CMC scientists, this short article seeks to emphasize the significance of circumvention methods whenever learning the social areas 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), specially in first stages. Goffman’s work on self-presentation explicates the real ways a person may participate in strategic activities “to convey the feeling to other people which it really is inside the interests to convey” (1959, p. 4). These impression-management habits consist of expressions provided (interaction within the conventional feeling, e.g., spoken interaction) and expressions given down (presumably unintentional interaction, such as for example nonverbal interaction cues). Self-presentation methods are specifically crucial during relationship initiation, as other people will utilize this information to choose whether or not to pursue a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987). Analysis implies that when people be prepared to fulfill a possible relationship partner the very first time, they are going to change their self-presentational behavior relative to the values desired by the potential date (Rowatt, Cunningham, & Druen, 1998). Even when getting together with strangers, people have a tendency to take part in self-enhancement (Schlenker & Pontari, 2000).