Monica Whitty (@cyberpsy on twitter) is a prolific online relationship researcher. But rather than overwhelm this blog with post after post after post summarising her extensive work on cyber-infidelity, I thought I’d consolidate her work here. Read on for links, notes and quotes from three papers, including what kinds of relationships people develop online, why they cheat, and what online affairs mean for offline partnerships.
Whitty, M., Buchanan, T. & Watson, A. (2009). LoveGeist: Love Landscape. Match International.
note and quote:
We found that 43.3% of men and 61.9% of women had become fussier about who they date over the last year.
I wonder to what extent this is because of the process of dating via technology. As Bernie Hogan says in the OII report Me, My Spouse and the Internet,
in the past 15 years people have not only gotten more individualistic about their relationship strategies, but also more instrumen tally focused. Individuals are increasingly considering the practice of finding a mate as a distinct and intentional activity with its own set of contexts and conventions, rather than something that just happens’ as one goes about other activities.
They date the beginning of the inexorable rise and rise of online dating as 1997.
Coombs, R. H. & Kenkel, W.F. (1966). Sex differences in dating aspirations and satisfaction with computer-selected partners. Journal of Marriage & Family, Vol 1: 62-66.
The structural-functional views of Talcott Parsons are used as the rationale for predicting sex differences in dating aspirations and partner satisfaction. Blind dates were arranged for 300 male and 300 female students by an LB.M. computer. Evidence was found to support the hypotheses that 1) women would have higher aspirations for a dating partner, in the sense of more socially desired characteristics, than would men; and that 2) women would register a high degree of satisfaction less frequently than men following the first date. The findings are compared with popular notions of male-female tendencies for romantic love at first acquaintance.
I have access to full text. Here are my notes and quotes. First, some context:
Since family status is largely determined by the income and prestige level of the husband’s occupation, the masculine role is firmly anchored in this occupational structure. A boy soon learns that the only way to become a real man in our society is to have a good job and to earn an adequate living. However, the dominant adult female role, particularly among middle-class families, is that of housewife and mother. Structurally, the importance of this sex role differentiation, aside from providing household and children care, is the shielding of the wife from competition in the occupational sphere, thus fostering a feeling of self-respect for the breadwinner and harmony for the family unit.
priceless. thank god for women’s liberation.
here’s where the computer comes in:
This was a special campus dance in which students were paired by use of an I.B.M. 7074 computer. Prior to the dance, 500 college men and 500 college women completed a questionnaire giving background information on themselves and stating the qualities they desired in a dating partner.
and those results:
In general, the girls had more rigid standards for their computer-arranged partners than did the men…on seven of the eight measures utilized, the female participants specified higher hopes for their partners than did their male counterparts…The only factor that was not rated higher by girls than by men was physical attractiveness; men were much more enthusiastic about having a “good looking” partner than were women.
doesn’t deconstruct the efficacy of the computer matching system at all.
Whitty, M. & Buchanan, T. (2009). Looking for Love in so many Places: Characteristics of Online Daters and Speed Daters. Interpersona 3(2).
This study examined the characteristics of individuals who are more likely to engage in speed dating and online dating, and the types of people who are more likely to prefer these forms of dating. Older individuals and those who scored high on shyness were more likely to have tried online dating. Older individuals, those who scored high on shyness, and those who had tried online dating were more likely to consider using it in the future. Younger individuals were more likely to have tried speed dating. Those who had already tried speed dating were more likely to consider using it in the future. We argue here that online dating offers some advantages for shy individuals.
notes & quotes:
Madden and Lenhart (2006) have reported that 74% of single Americans searching for partners have used the internet to facilitate their romantic pursuits.
oh my goodness. this is depressing:
Previous theorists have devised the SMI model (Searching, Matching, Interacting model) to characterise formal matchmaking services, such as personal ads, video dating, and computer matchmaking (Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992). They parallel matchmaking services with basic market functions. For instance, in the market place initially „searching‟ is required; that is, gaining information essential for exchange (in regards to matchmaking this means searching for information about a potential other). „Matching‟ is required to bring together compatible exchange partners (in regards to matchmaking this would mean bringing together two singles that seem well matched). Transactions take place in the third phase in the market place. This phase requires an exchange of goods. Ahuvia and Adelman (1992), however, prefer the term „interacting‟ to described the third phase of matchmaking, given that the goodsexchanged when it comes to relationship development are the self-disclosures revealed in conversations by both individuals.
in this study (both online daters and speed daters):
The majority of participants (69%, 188 people) were looking for a long-term romantic partner, while only 2% (6 people) were looking specifically for a short-term encounter. Twenty-three percent (63) had no clear goal as to what they were looking for, and the remainder either said they were not looking for a partner (12 people) or did not answer the question (2 people). The majority were either single (63%, 170 people) or divorced (21%, 57 people). A total of 21 said they were married, cohabiting, or in a girlfriend/boyfriend type relationship. Of these 21, 6 fell into the group saying they were not looking for a partner, and 10 indicated they were looking for a relationship of some sort.
shy individuals are more likely than non-shy to use the internet to initiate relationships and that shy people are more likely to prefer to use the internet to develop relationships than non-shy individuals
older individuals were more likely to have tried online dating and were more likely to want to use it as a method of dating in the future…Many of the individuals she interviewed said they felt too old to go about dating via more traditional methods and had it not been for the internet they would not have considered even hoping to find romance again in their lives.
We did not find that those low in relationship competence were more drawn to online dating
21% of our sample claimed that speed dating and/or online dating were the only methods they had used to find partners. It seems unlikely that these people had never met potential partners in other ways