How Do First Impressions Impact Success in Internet Dating?

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Our first impression of a person’s personality characteristics can have an important impact on subsequent judgments and decisions concerning that person. We demonstrate evidence of the importance of personality trait inferences (PTIs), based solely on photos, in the domain of Internet dating. Using a naturalistic data set of real daters interacting through a major online dating site, we examined the relationship between PTIs and romantic success. Using only the photos posted on the dating site, judges rated daters along various personality dimensions. We find that photo-based PTIs significantly predict dater success in the domain of Internet matchmaking. Appearing fun and outgoing was positively related to success for both male and female daters. In contrast, while appearing smart and serious was positively related to success for male daters, this relationship was reversed for female daters. Even after controlling for attractiveness, as well as self-reported demographics and relationship preferences provided in the online profiles, PTIs still significantly predict dater success. These results suggest that photo-based first impressions can impact a decision to contact a potential mate, even when relevant information about the person is available. We conclude by discussing the implications of PTIs for other web-based social interaction technologies.

Keywords: Internet Matchmaking, Online Dating, First Impressions, Spontaneous Trait Inferences, Mate Selection
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Christopher Olivola

Graduate Student, Department of Psychology & The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Princeton, NJ, USA

Christopher Olivola is a fourth-year Princeton University graduate student in the Department of Psychology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is pursuing a dual PhD in cognitive psychology and policy. His research interests are in the psychology of human decision making and behavioral economics (applying psychological principles to models of economic behavior). His research has explored a variety of topics, such as the impact of first impressions on web-based interactions, human conceptions of randomness, the factors that influence charitable giving, and the psychology of martyrdom. Before coming to Princeton, Chris received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Chicago. Before that, he spent his pre-adult life growing up on 4 different continents (mostly in developing countries).

Dr. Alex Todorov

Affiliation not supplied
Princeton, NJ, USA

Dr. Ali Hortacsu

Affiliation not supplied
Chicago, IL, USA

Dr. Dan Ariely

Affiliation not supplied

Ref: T08P0121