For people who are either considering online dating or are already involved in online dating, lying is a big concern.
There are plenty of stories, each more frightening than the last, about first dates gone terribly wrong when the other person showed up and it was obvious that they had lied on their online profile about something really fundamental like their weight, height, or even age.
It’s an incredibly awkward situation to be in, and it rarely ends well.
Now, a research study has been done to find out just how many people are lying in their online dating profiles, and how big the lies are. Jeffery Hancock of Cornell University and his fellow researchers took 80 willing participants, 40 men and 40 women, from the New York area and compared their online dating profiles to their real life selves.
Specifically, they compared the 80 participants on height, weight, and age.
The Lying Masses
What Hancock found was that 81% of the 80 participants lied about at least one of the three things in their profile. Perhaps not surprising, women lied the most about weight by under stating it in their profiles, and men lied most about their height by over stating it in their profiles.
Yet despite such a high number of liars among us, the average lie was actually quite small:
- Age – The average lie about age was only .44 years higher or lower than the real number, hardly a lie to be worried about
- Height – The average lie about height was only .33 inches higher or lower than the real number. Again, not a big enough lie to really worry about it
- Weight - The average lie about weight was 5.86 pounds higher or lower than the real number, which is not small, but not terribly large either
So while 81% of online daters may lie in their profiles, the lies are usually quite small. So small, in fact, that you would probably never even realize you had been lied to in the first place if you met the person in real life.
Most people realize that lying in their online profiles wont pan out in the long run, and any lie they do include is subtle enough that you’re probably not going to notice unless you bring a scale and a tape measure on your date.
A Few Bad Apples
The study found that there were a few people who ignored the obvious consequences and lied in a big way in their online profiles. He mentions that these people are probably where most horror stories about lying in online dating profiles originate. The biggest lie for:
- Age was 3 years older and an astonishing 9 years younger than was listed on the online profile
- Height was 3 inches taller and 1.75 inches shorter than was listed on the online profile
- Weight was an amazing 35 pounds heavier and 20.4 pounds lighter than was listed on the online profile
The Biggies are Obvious
The lies about weight are particularly astounding. It would be immediately obvious to almost anyone that their date had lied about their weight if they showed up 35 pounds heavier than they claimed to be.
The Bottom Line
Yes, most people lie in their online dating profiles, but the lies are small, so small that you’ll never be able to pick out the liars from the from the ones who told the truth so it’s probably best not to worry about it. The few who do tell big lies will be immediately obvious if you ever meet them in person, and if nothing else, the experience will make for a good story to scare your friends with.