The uncertainty reduction theory, employed by computer-mediated communication users, Online dating mainly supports passive strategies for reducing. MOBILE DATING IN THE DIGITAL AGE: COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING ON TINDER by Jessica L. James, B.S. A thesis submitted to the Graduate. Social information processing theory, is also found in online dating. of Emoticons on Message Interpretation in Computer-Mediated Communication.
By continuing to browse this site you agree to us using cookies as described in About Cookies. Previous article in issue: Habitual Facebook Use and its Impact on Getting Deceived on Social Media. Next article in issue: Thank You to Reviewers. Despite the popularity of online dating sites, little is known about what occurs when online dating partners choose to communicate offline.
Drawing upon the modality switching perspective, the present study assessed a national sample of online daters to determine whether face-to-face FtF relational outcomes could be predicted by the amount of online communication prior to the initial FtF meeting. Results were consistent with the hypothesized curvilinear relationship between the amount of online communication and perceptions of relational messages intimacy, composure, informality, social orientation , forecasts of the future of the relationship, and information seeking behavior when meeting their partner FtF.
The results provide support for the modality switching perspective, and offer important insight for online daters. Once stigmatized as rife with deception and desperation, online dating services such as have become popular venues for adults to meet potential romantic partners. As of October , Match. Little is known regarding what occurs once partners choose to meet each other in person. Online dating sites foster initial communication between potential romantic partners. Once initial contact has been established, partners must determine whether to pursue other forms of communication outside of the dating site.
Although some online daters engage in a drawn out process of mediated courtship, most prefer to meet potential partners face-to-face FtF relatively quickly after the initial communication. This meeting is important because it provides additional cues that could either enhance or diminish online daters' perceptions of each other Finkel et al. It remains unknown, however, whether various factors pertinent to the online relationship e.
The modality switching perspective suggests that online partners who meet offline might experience different outcomes depending upon the amount of time and online communication preceding the initial FtF meeting.
This perspective has been tested almost exclusively in the context of experimental partnerships, yet it should provide a useful lens for examining the context of online daters who switch modalities by meeting offline.
The present study's investigation of MS in online dating will provide important practical and theoretical insight. On a practical level, online daters might be unsure regarding whether it is better to meet potential partners FtF soon after establishing online contact, or postpone offline encounters until important relational markers such as trust and intimacy have been established.
The present study will speak toward this issue, and might therefore provide daters with important advice regarding the ideal timing of FtF meetings. On a theoretical level, the present study seeks to enhance scholarly understanding of the MS process. Prior research has utilized experimental designs in which participants were randomly paired with a partner and assigned a task to complete e. These experiments were designed to mimic the pattern of workgroups formed online and eventually migrate offline, yet ecological validity may have suffered due to the artificial nature of the partnerships and tasks.
The present study seeks to remedy this issue by extending the modality switching perspective to the applied and naturalistic setting of online dating partners who elect to establish FtF contact during their relationship initiation process. As a result, online dating sites are a convenient way for single adults to strategically locate other individuals who are seeking a romantic relationship. Finkel and colleagues summarize that online dating sites provide users with three key services: Sites differ in the specific process through which they seek to facilitate these services.
Dating services such as eHarmony. Sites such as Match. Regardless of the exact matching process, the sites typically require members to construct a profile by providing textual and photographic indicators that convey personal information e.
The profile serves as an important first impression for daters who are hoping to catch the attention of potential partners Heino et al. As a result, most online dating research has focused on understanding issues of self-presentation and misrepresentation during the creation and interpretation of profiles Ellison et al.
The hyperpersonal perspective Walther, is frequently employed to examine self-presentation and impression formation in mediated communication contexts. The perspective suggests that online communicators are able to utilize the asynchronous and anonymonous nature of mediated communication to craft messages that represent selective, and often overly positive, self-presentation Walther, As a result, communicators are prone to developing hyperpersonal relationships that reflect increased intimacy relative to FtF communicators.
Although not developed with this context in mind, the perspective provides potentially important clues regarding the role of self-presentation and self-disclosure in online dating. Online daters often utilize profile names or first names only, which provides a sense of disconnection and security from their offline identity.
This sense of anonymity might provoke users to share more information than they would if interacting in the offline world. That said, online dating sites enable even greater levels of perceptual ambiguity because individuals must utilize text and photo-based communication to describe aspects of their identity that would be readily apparent in the offline world Ellison et al.
As a result, daters often indicate their identities are somewhat malleable; they can pick and choose which aspects of their past, present, or ideal future selves to display on their profile. Participants in Ellison et al. Indeed, the authors concluded that the profiles serve as a promise, meaning that daters operate under good faith that FtF encounters will not reveal significant differences from a person's profile.
Daters in Gibb et al. In fact, the authors concluded that honesty is negatively correlated with online dating self-presentation such that disclosing honest yet negative information can hinder daters' ability to attract potential partners. According to Heino et al.
Despite the potential for dishonesty and strategic misrepresentation, most online daters possess the goal of establishing a meaningful offline romantic relationship. Those who engage in blatant misrepresentation were said to hurt their chances at forming an offline romantic relationship. In sum, it appears that online daters might engage in strategic misrepresentation to cultivate positive yet realistic impressions that will not provoke distrust if they were to meet a partner in person Ellison et al.
Despite this growing body of research, considerably little work has attempted to understand the dynamics of online dating once partners shift toward offline interaction. Whereas initial online communication helps daters verify basic information and coordinate an offline encounter, the first FtF meeting provides important cues that enable them to establish the veracity and attractiveness of each other's physical world identity.
Questions remain, however, regarding which factors affect dater's experience of relational communication upon meeting FtF. One of the most unique affordances of online dating is the ability to determine compatibility levels with potential partners through online interaction before deciding whether to meet them FtF Finkel et al.
One must consider, then, how this type of meeting might alter the outcomes of online dating relationships. One applicable approach for examining the online dating process is through the occurrence of MS. Ramirez and Zhang investigated whether the timing of a switch influences relational outcomes such as intimacy, task-social orientation, and social attraction. Drawing upon the hyperpersonal perspective Walther, and online partners' tendency to engage in selective self-presentation, the authors speculated that switches would be most beneficial when they occur before partners have had time to form idealized impressions.
Overall, the findings showed that FtF meetings between previously online-only partners can either enhance or dampen relational outcomes depending upon the timing of the switch.
Switching from mediated to FtF early after 3 weeks in an association appeared to provide cues that enhanced relational outcomes. Conversely, switching from mediated to FtF late after 6 weeks provided cues that contradicted existing impressions and dampened relational outcomes.
MS has also been examined using an expectancy violations theory Burgoon, framework to investigate how social information gleaned i. Ramirez and Wang revealed that modality switches can provide information that violates a person's expectations regarding their partner and their potential relationship; however, this effect was also contingent upon the timing of the modality switch.
Specifically, individuals in short-term associations evaluated violations as positive and uncertainty reducing. However, participants in long-term associations reported violations as negative and uncertainty provoking. Although these results pertain to dyads with the goal of task completion rather than romantic involvement, similar trends might emerge for online daters who switch to a FtF modality. Online dating sites can encourage relationship development and intimacy, but users must carefully navigate the online to offline transition.
The authors speculated that daters would experience the most positive outcomes when they move toward FtF relatively quickly. Indeed, meeting FtF might provide daters with impression-enhancing information that develops the relationship in a positive manner. However, a tipping point likely exists to the extent that daters who wait too long before meeting FtF may risk developing idealized impressions that will be violated upon meeting FtF. The potential for this is particularly likely in the online dating context, given that daters are prone toward making small and strategic self-enhancements on their profiles e.
Such claims are consistent with the experimental MS research discussed above. One primary difference between the current study and previous tests of the modality switching perspective is that prior research e. In the present study, it is unfeasible to ask partners to meet FtF at a designated point in time not of their choosing. In order to analyze real-world online dating relationships, the present study will treat the length of association as a continuous variable.
Consistent with previous research on CMC and MS e. The inclusion of multiple dimensions allows for a broader assessment of relational message interpretations and comparison with previous research.
The amount of time spent communicating online prior to meeting FtF will be curvilinearly associated with perceptions of relational communication: When online daters meet in person after a period of online interaction, one of their goals is to determine the viability of the potential relationship Whitty, Those who do not anticipate future partner contact, on the other hand, are unlikely to exert effort to develop the relationship further.
Such an explanation is also consistent with social information processing theory and the hyperpersonal perspective Walther, , which identify the anticipation of future interaction as a necessary condition for developing relationships and exaggerated expectations. These results appear to translate well into an online dating context, as the environment affords users many opportunities to reduce uncertainty and seek information through online communication and observation.
Indeed, Gibbs and colleagues report that anticipated FtF interaction is positively associated with self-disclosure in online dating. More specifically, daters begin the information acquisition process by perusing the photographs and narratives that potential partners share on their profile. They might establish contact to assess potential compatibility, and ultimately set up a FtF meeting to determine the viability of an offline relationship for a review, see Finkel et al.
Daters who choose to meet FtF likely see the potential for a positive POV, however, the first FtF meeting provides an immense amount of information that might enhance or diminish their outcome forecast about their partner. When attempting to determine a POV forecast during initial FtF interactions, online daters will likely compare social and visual information gained about each other online to that experienced in person Gibbs et al, Information about perceived inconsistencies between attributes claimed online and those inferred in person would be sought.
Partners who meet FtF with very little online interaction likely lack the basic background information that would provide fodder for developing the relationship. Due to this limited amount of message exchange, such partners likely possess underdeveloped partner expectations, engaged in little idealization, and should be able to incorporate the new social and visual information into their perceptions thus maintaining a positive POV. Moreover, Sunnafrank argues that POV is a product and reflection of the communication that occurs between partners and thus, should mimic the pattern predicted of the relational dimensions in the present study.
Hence, consistent with Ramirez and Zhang the present study examined two outcomes drawn from POV theory Sunnafrank, relevant to online dating: Evaluation of the attractiveness of a potential partner is determined primarily through communication and information acquisition, resulting in a POV forecast Sunnafrank, Ramirez and Zhang reported that partners who engaged in an early switch to FtF interaction report a more positive POV forecast, a reduction in uncertainty, and an increase in information seeking.
Yet, individuals experiencing a late switch reported a lowered POV forecast, an increase in uncertainty, but a continued increase in information seeking. These combined results suggest a curvilinear association between the continuous indicator of time spent communicating online prior to meeting FtF, and daters' POV upon switching to FtF.
Ramirez and Zhang's results also showed that information seeking displayed a linear pattern irrespective of length of association. This latter finding was inconsistent with what would be predicted from a modality switching perspective, thus only a research question is posed for information seeking.