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 strategies among internet dating participants, checking out exactly just just how individuals manage their online presentation of self to be able to achieve the aim of finding a intimate partner. Thirty-four people active on a large dating that is online took part in phone interviews about their online dating sites experiences and perceptions. Qualitative information analysis shows that individuals dealt with little cues online, mediated the tension between impression administration pressures while the need to present a sense that is authentic of 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 Suggestions Processing theory in a naturalistic context and will be offering understanding of the complicated method by which “honesty” is enacted online.


The dating that is online represents a chance to report changing social norms surrounding technology-mediated relationship development also to gain understanding of essential components of online behavior, such as for example impression development and self-presentation methods. Mixed-mode relationships, wherein people first meet on the web and then go offline, challenge founded theories that concentrate on solely online relationships and supply 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 distinctive from a great many other online settings because of the expectation of face-to-face conversation inherent in this context (Gibbs, Ellison, & Heino, 2006) while the proven fact that social methods 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 least 29 million People in the us (two away from five singles) utilized an internet relationship solution (Gershberg, 2004); in 2004, an average of, there have been 40 million unique people to online dating services each month within the U.S. (CBC News, 2004). In reality, the internet personals category is amongst the many profitable types of premium content on the internet in america (Egan, 2003) as well as the internet dating market is likely to achieve $642 million in 2008 (Greenspan, 2003). Ubiquitous usage of the world-wide-web, the diminished social stigma connected with online dating sites, as well as the 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 a phenomenon that is new paper personal ads have actually existed considering that the mid-19th century (Schaefer, 2003) and video clip relationship had been popular into the 1980s (Woll & Cosby, 1987; Woll & younger, 1989). Although scholars involved in a number of scholastic procedures have actually examined these earlier in the day kinds of mediated matchmaking ( ag 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 for their 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 for mate-finding is changed through online methods and habits. For example, Social Suggestions Processing (SIP) theory along with other frameworks help illuminate computer-mediated interaction (CMC), social interaction, and impression management procedures. This informative article is targeted on the methods for which CMC interactants handle their online self-presentation and contributes to our understanding of these procedures by examining these problems into the naturalistic context of internet dating, making use of qualitative information collected from in-depth interviews with online dating sites participants.

Literature Review

In comparison to a technologically deterministic perspective that centers around the traits associated with technologies on their own, or even a socially deterministic approach that privileges user 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 that information and interaction technologies (ICTs) both form and therefore are shaped by social methods. As Dutton points out, “technologies can start, near, and otherwise contour social choices, but not constantly into the methods expected on such basis as rationally extrapolating from the recognized properties of technology” (1996, p. 9). One certain framework that reflects this method is Howard’s (2004) embedded news viewpoint, which acknowledges both the capabilities as well as the constraints of ICTs. Capabilities are the ones facets of technology that enhance our capability to relate genuinely to the other person, enact modification, and thus forth; constraints are the ones facets of technology that hinder our power to attain these goals. An aspect that is important of usage, that is mentioned although not clearly highlighted in Howard’s framework, may be the idea of circumvention, which defines the precise techniques utilized by people to exploit the capabilities and reduce the constraints connected with their utilization of ICTs. This article seeks to highlight the importance of circumvention practices when studying the social aspects of technology use. 1 although the notion of circumvention is certainly not new to CMC researchers

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

Self-presentation and self-disclosure procedures are important facets of relational development in offline settings (Taylor & Altman, 1987), particularly in first stages. Goffman’s work on self-presentation explicates the ways someone may participate in strategic activities “to convey an impact to other people which its in the passions to convey” (1959, p. 4). These impression-management habits consist of expressions offered (communication into the old-fashioned feeling, e.g., spoken interaction) and expressions given down (presumably unintentional communication, such as for example nonverbal interaction cues). Self-presentation techniques are specially essential during relationship initiation, as others will make use of this information to choose whether or not to pursue a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987). Analysis implies that whenever people expect you’ll fulfill a dating that is potential the very first time, they are going to change their self-presentational behavior according to the values desired by the prospective date (Rowatt, Cunningham, & Druen, 1998). Even though getting together with strangers, people have a tendency to participate in self-enhancement (Schlenker & Pontari, 2000).

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