You are on page 1of 20

By: Jewel McNair

September 8, 2014
Two Article Summaries
Title- Profile as Promise: A
Framework for
Conceptualizing Veracity in
Online Dating Self-
-Nicole B. Ellison
-Jeffrey T. Hancock
-Catalina L. Toma
-Published online 27 June

Key Words:
-Common Ground
-Online Dating
-Self- Presentation

Research that focused
primarily on users and
how they form ideas
around distorted or
exaggerated self-
presentations in online
dating profiles.
Collected data from 37
online dating participants
in New York City
Analyzed user self-
presentational methods
Examined discrepancies
between users profiles
online and offline
presentations and the way
that they are composed,
analyzed, and validated.
Recruited heterosexual research participants from Craigslist and
advertisements that were current users of four popular online dating
Yahoo!Personals,, American Singles,
and Webdate.
Eighty participants in original study and 37 of that eighty were
interviewed on their own. (Interviewed 12 Men and 25 Women from
ages 18-47-average age of 30).
Involved in Online dating for at least two years (shortest being two
months and longest being seven years).
Users given copy outlining their dating profiles online and rated the
accuracy of each profile and their acceptance of lying in that regard.

Profile features that were analyzed for accuracy and acceptability
Age, Height, Occupation, and Religion.
Participants did a survey and interview by third author ending with
participants being measured.
Users were debriefed and received $30 for their participation and time.
Utilized qualitative methods to examine the users experiences,
understandings, and perceptions with interviews lasting on average 30
Interview process was designed to evoke their own concepts and logic
behind their ability to welcome various forms of misrepresentations.
Sample Questions include:
Can you describe your thought process when you were deciding how to
answer the profile question?
What kinds of misrepresentations in profiles are Ok or are NOT Ok?

Each interview was recorded
then transcribed by an
undergraduate research
Methods and theories utilized:
The Constant Comparison
Method (Strauss and Corbin,
Required a grounded theory
approach where the analytic
process created an abstract
understanding of the research.

3-Step Analysis Process:
First- Author reviewed entire
interview in order to recognize
categories such as self-
presentational strategies and
Social acceptability and each
question-answer was coded and
considered to be one whole unit.
Second- Selective coding was
used on Passages that focused on
acceptability and
misrepresentations of profiles.
Highlight varying groups, including
Malleability (compliance, flexibility).
Lastly, The Promise or Profile
as Promise framework was
developed to understand the
concept of promises in the data

Presentation of Self in a reduced-cue environment
Hyperpersonal model reflects process of selective self-presentation is more
apparent online through presenting an idea of yourself to others in a desirable
way so that respond in a positive way.
Information is much more selective in CMC than in normal FtF communication
because it is a reduced- cue environment. When you meet FtF, physical
attractiveness, body type, and ethnicity are evident immediately whereas it
needs to be described in CMC because these cues are absent in online profiles.
Ambuiguity can arise from three main areas:
Lack of Self-Knowledge, efforts to hide ones true self, technical affordances of
the online dating context which constrain self-presentational choices.
Asynchronicity and Temporal Factors
This process allows for selective self-presentation (including deception
through intent or unintentional) by providing more time to cognitive create
the best impression.
Shared Contextual Expectations
Communal Common Ground refers to shared perceptions on online dating
profiles and embellishment. This can also relate to how participants influence
and assess self-presentational messages.

Time Shifting in the Profile: Asynchronicity as license to lie?
Time-shifting reflects how profiles are assessed when participants
use a range of multiple selves (past or present) when emphasizing
positive characteristics they could one day reclaim/relive.
Reduced Cues: Having to tell rather than Show
Within an reduced-cue environment, online users are expected to
tell other uses about themselves rather than show them in FtF
interactions. Contexts, such as body type or Smoking habits, may
result in misrepresentation from lack of self-Knowledge. Users also
utilized Equivocation to create ambiguity of a certain self-concept
that was neither true nor deceptive. For example, a person would
admit to having a tummy but would put their body type as athletic,
thus choosing the more positive representation of themselves.

Fudging to get over the hump: expected
misrepresentations within Online Contexts
Shared expectations of profile misrepresentations can
include euphemistic terms such as curvy that can have
a shared understanding in the online community as fat
or masking someone who is overweight.
The users ability to accept these discrepancies in profile
misrepresentations can be influenced by three factors:
Asynchronous (Time Shifted) nature of profile, the
reduced-cue environment, and the shared expectations
of the communal common ground.
The user believes that the online
profile is considered as a promise
made by the creator to the other
This concept of the framework
implies that this is not the identical
representation of ones self,
however, its helps to discern
between what information is
acceptable and unacceptable
profile misrepresentations.
the profile constitutes a
promise made to an imagined
audience that future face-to-face
interaction will take place with
someone who does not differ
fundamentally from the person
represented by the profile (Ellison,
Hancock, and Toma, 2011).

Three Main Concepts for the
Promise to be fulfilled:
1. The promise needs to be made
clear initially
2. Do no diverge from our online
self in future FtF interaction
Are subject to ambiguity and may
be incomplete.
Violations of these concepts are
considered to be unacceptable.
Online daters who wish to act as
promise keepers will only utilize
discrepancies that they do no want
to be identified as lies.
CMC elements such as a reduced-cue environment and
its effect on relationship development and interpersonal
The Profile as Promise framework combines both CMC
and context factors in relation to the production of
messages and how we assess them.
It helps Online daters choose what to portray on their
profile or what not to portray- creating a flexible sense of
identity and incorporate our past or future selves (2011).
The Profile as Promise framework helps you to better
understand the discrepancies involved in online profiles
that can be non factual or potentially truthfully fulfilled.
Title: Looks and Lies: The
Role of Physical
Attractiveness in Online
Dating Self-Presentation
and Deception
Catalina Toma
Jeffrey T. Hancock
Published online 1 April
Key Words-
-Online Dating
Participants and Recruitment-
80 New York City online daters (40 men and 40 women)
55% White, 15% Black, 12.5% Asian, 10% Mixed Race
Minimum age= 30.55 Maximum age= 53
Subscribers to either, Yahoo Personals, American Singles,
or Webdate.
Recruited through online and print advertisements
251 Online daters invited to participate in study, 84 came to the study,
and 4 were dismissed because of bisexual orientation.
Participants sent to psychology lab in New School University where profiles
are downloaded with attached photos where they were given they individual
profile. Photographs were taken along with height an weight measurements
from their drivers licenses for accurate representation.
Objective Physical Attributes
At appointment,
photographs were taken:
Head shot, full body shot,
and a replicated pose of
their primary profile picture.
Judges were undergraduate
students that rated their
level of attractiveness on a
scale of 1 to 10 (10 being
very attractive).
Photographic Self-Enhancement
This measurement had the
judges assess whether the
profile pictures were more
attractive photographs of
Both judges also used a
scale of 1-10 and a score
was derived to show how
much more or less attractive
their online representations
of themselves were
compared to their actual
Accuracy of Profile Elements
Self-Report- Users were rate
the accuracy in reflection of
truth (1-10) of the elements
on their profile(occupation,
age, etc.)
Objective Measurements-
The accuracy of the profile
elements were objectively
verified through actual
measurement or from
drivers licenses so they
couldnt lie to make a better
Relationship Goals
Users reported their
relationship goals from
options such as :
A.) Make new
friends/meet new people
B.) date multiple people
C.) Meet one particular
person to establish a
D.) find a life partner
Self-presentation is the packaging and editing of the self during social
interactions to create a desired impression in the audience ( Baumeister, 1982;
Goffman, 1959; Leary, 1996) ( Toma, Hancock, 2010).
Desired Impressions: The Importance of Physical
First impression depends on what the user thinks the online dater values.
Possible conceptions of attractive people considered to be more desirable and
attract desirable partners. There is a desire to convey attractiveness as an online
Constructing desired impressions online
A.) choosing the most flattering photo, b.) selecting older photographs that
make you look better, younger c.) adjusting the photograph before, during, or
after it was taken.
Strategies for online self-presentation- Varying Hypotheses on
level of attraction and presentation Online
(H1, H2, and H3),The Strategy of Compensation, R1

H1- A users decreased attractiveness will lead to
increased adjustments in their online physical
appearance through photographs and self-description
that is deceptive.
H2- Negative relationship between actual physical
attractiveness and enhanced photos and self description
that is stronger for women rather than men.
H3- If the online dater is more attractive, then they are
likely to post more personal photographs.
Descriptives: Online Daters Physical Attractiveness
Male judges had higher qualifications for attractiveness
than female judges. Both rated relatively the same
Longer term relational goals were associated with less
self-enhancement. Lower attractiveness correlated with
increased self-enhancement in physical descriptions.
Less attractive daters provided more deceptive self-
descriptors which was stronger in unattractive women
and higher deception than unattractive men.
Lastly, more attractive daters posted more photographs
of themselves online.
Relational goals were not a signifier of social status

Desired self-presentation can be altered in regards to
concepts of physical attraction in an online environment.
Certain concepts and contexts, such as lack of social
cues, can increase deception within online profiles.
Self-presentations within online environments rely
primarily on visual cues and can affect the nature of
deception by altering physical appearances that would
not be possible in face-to-face interactions.
Self-presentational behaviors varied depending on the
attractive or unattractiveness on the individuals on that
dating context.
Ellison, N., Hancock, J., Toma, C. (2011). Profile as Promise: A
framework for conceptualizing veracity in online dating self
presentations. New Media Society 2012 14: 45. 27 June 2011.
Toma, C., Hancock, J. (2010). Looks and Lies: The Role of Physical
Attractiveness in Online Dating Self Presentation and
Deception. Communication Research 2010 37: 335. 7 April 2010.
Levinson, P. (2013) New new media. Second Edition. Boston, MA: