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Finkel and colleagues (2012) summarize that online dating sites provide users with three key services: 1) unprecedented access to potential dating partners, 2) the ability to communicate using mediated channels before determining to meet Ft F, and 3) the option of being matched using romantic compatibility algorithms.
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).
Once initial contact has been established, partners must determine whether to pursue other forms of communication outside of the dating site.
Although some online daters engage in a drawn out process of mediated courtship, most prefer to meet potential partners face-to-face (Ft F) relatively quickly after the initial communication.
As a result, most online dating research has focused on understanding issues of self-presentation and misrepresentation during the creation and interpretation of profiles (Ellison et al., 2011; Toma & Hancock, 2011).
The hyperpersonal perspective (Walther, 1996) is frequently employed to examine self-presentation and impression formation in mediated communication contexts.