Offline dating statistics
As of October 2012, reports that one in five new relationships, and one in six new marriages occur between partners who met using an online dating service.Given its prevalence, researchers are attempting to understand how online dating differs from traditional processes of romantic relationship formation (for a review, see Finkel, Eastwick, Karney, Reis, & Sprecher, 2012).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.g., height, body type, age, occupation, etc.), and identify the qualities they desire in a potential partner.The profile serves as an important first impression for daters who are hoping to catch the attention of potential partners (Heino et al., 2010).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.
Drawing upon the modality switching perspective, the present study assessed a national sample of online daters to determine whether face-to-face (Ft F) relational outcomes could be predicted by the amount of online communication prior to the initial Ft F meeting.
On a practical level, online daters might be unsure regarding whether it is better to meet potential partners Ft F 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 Ft F 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.g., Ramirez & Zhang, 2007; Ramirez & Wang, 2008).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, 2007).