Date of Award
Master of Science in Research Psychology (MS)
Jenny Lee Vaydich
Shame, External Shame, Misrepresentation, Online Dating
In the U.S. public opinion about online dating is overall positive with 54% of Americans reporting that relationships that start online through an app or dating site are just as successful as relationships that begin in-person. In dating, success is linked to desirable characteristics such as resources or physical appearance. However, feelings of external shame, which is when a person perceives themselves as existing negatively in the mind of another person is a powerful motivator for avoiding being seen as socially unacceptable. Being seen as socially undesirable as a result of feeling as though oneself is lacking in desirable characteristics leads to misrepresentation, which is defined as a person purposefully misrepresenting themselves in relationship goals, personal assets, personal interests, and attractiveness. However, in the online dating context misrepresentation has become more common. Past research has explored external shame and impression management as well as relationship formation and misrepresentation. However, little is known about the impact of external shame on the use of misrepresentation in the context of online dating. 180 participants (Mage = 32, SD = 11) engaged in an online survey asking them questions about their online dating experiences in the last 2 years. Results indicate people who reported higher external shame also reported higher misrepresentation. Results also indicated that people who reported higher external shame also reported higher misrepresentation regardless of biological sex. In sum, this study provides evidence that external shame impacts the use of misrepresentation in the context of online dating.
Todd, Diedrah, "It's not you, it's me: Shame and Misrepresentation in Online Dating" (2022). Research Psychology Theses. 4.