Part 1. Introduction
Public attitudes toward online dating have switched.
Since their emergence te the mid-1990&rsquo,s, online dating services have become an increasingly popular way for Americans to seek romantic vrouwen and lifelong mates. While people have bot finding love online since the earliest days of the internet, through newsgroups, talk rooms, games and other online communities, the meteoric development of the commercial dating industry has brought millions of paying users and mainstream exposure to the activity. The Online Publisher&rsquo,s Association reported te 2004 that dating websites created more revenue than any other paid online content category, spil they netted harshly $470 million ter consumer spending, up from about $40 million ter 2001. 11 Revenue growth has slowed te latest years, but the industry proceeds to maintain a sturdy almohadilla of users, many of them willing to pay premium fees for access to specialized services. 12
All the while, online dating has also bot solidifying its picture offline, not only through features te movies, television, and advertising outlets, but also through the influence of daters&rsquo, individual success stories, which have percolated through family, friends, and coworkers, and have contributed to the momentum and social acceptance of the practice. 13 A 2003 Fresh York Times letterteken to the editor, written te response to a feature article on online dating, describes this ripple effect firsthand:
&ldquo,The success of Sascha Segan, mentioned te your article, te meeting his fiancee, Leontine Greenberg, on Nerve.com persuaded a mutual friend of ours to attempt the service, and she persuaded mij.
Next year, I’m getting married to a man I met on Nerve.com. Two nights ago at a party, I ran into a friend of a friend and hier fresh Internet-acquired bf, who are the next step ter the chain reaction embarked by Sascha and Leontine.
My thanks to Sascha for being so open about looking for love ter cyberspace. May wij all be so fortunate.&rdquo, 14
The appeal of online dating undoubtedly varies from user to user, but convenience has bot a key selling point ter the marketing of the services. Spil some of the most popular online dating services suggest, users love access to a pool of potential mates that is larger and lighter to navigate than the offline world, and only costs spil much spil &ldquo,the price of a duo drinks.&rdquo, 15
Some early concerns about the potential risks of online dating still stay, but deception seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
Online dating has not always had the best reputation. When online dating activity wasgoed observed ter the mid-1990s, some attention focused on the ease with which people could deceive others. One article ter the St. Petersburg Times on Valentine&rsquo,s Day 1995 stressed:
&ldquo,But be warned, cyberdaters. You might find yourself having an erotic talk with someone named Bambi4You, who is indeed a man pretending to be a woman. [O]f course, you could be a woman pretending to be a man, or a man who is looking for a cross-dresser . . . the combinations are numerous.&rdquo, 16
Coincident with that kleuter of concern were those who suggested that the quest for dates online could be socially harmful. Typical of this sentiment wasgoed a 1999 article te the Washington Postbode that sounded some dire warnings:
&ldquo,While Internet use can expand the number of
relationships&mdash,intimate or not&mdash, and reduce the costs
of long-distance communication, habitual use can also
reduce a person’s social contacts with family members
and in-person friends, experts say. Ter extreme cases,
spouses, children, neighbors are shoved aside.&rdquo, 17
While the success of online dating services suggests that thesis extreme cases have bot the exception rather than the rule, some of thesis initial concerns about finding a playmate online still resonate today. Te an October 1996 advice katern, Ann Landers cited a warning from a writer who advised those considering online dating to verify their date&rsquo,s identity, and to look out for signs that would-be daters are actually predators. The writer advised users to meet any dates arranged online ter public places and to be wary of those who deny to divulge both their work and huis telephone numbers before meeting. Legitimate Likewise, the current &ldquo,Safety Tips&rdquo, pagina on Match.com te 2006 cautions that users would be wise to do some background research on their potential dates before meeting&mdash,asking for photos and phone numbers and possibly even paying for a background check. Even more imperative, the webpagina cautions, one should always meet ter a public place for the very first date. Nineteen While the webpagina acknowledges that deceptive daters are undeniably part of the mix online (te the same way one might encounter ill-intentioned suitors at a nightclub or party), they recommend that users exercise the same discretion spil they would ter any offline dating situation.
Similarly, the same 2003 Fresh York Times article that prompted a glowing letterteken to the editor also yielded a letterteken of warning about dishonest daters from another reader:
&ldquo,Spil a member of the online dating world, I can
attest that there is a frequent disconnect inbetween
who people say they are and the truth. What’s
most frustrating is not the outright lounging
but the masterful deception.
&ldquo,I met a woman who described herself spil a
‘striking blonde.’ She wasgoed plain-looking
but an excellent bowler!&rdquo, 20
This dater&rsquo,s practice is more indicative of the tradeoffs that many daters accept spil simply part of the spel. While this user had some disappointing practices with dishonesty, it wasgoed not the type of deception that resulted ter physical harm (tho’ notably, this letterteken wasgoed written by a man). He still sees enough benefit to proceed to be a regular &ldquo,member&rdquo, of the online dating world, and he suggests that the redeeming aspects of someone&rsquo,s personality may resolve that person&rsquo,s exaggerated physical description. Ter this way, the risks and payoffs of the online dating world more closely resemble the basic realities of dating ter the offline world.
Latest coverage ter the popular press has reflected this. It is not clear exactly when public attitudes embarked to shift, but an ever-growing share of stories about people finding dates, romance, and even marriage vrouwen online began to emerge ter the early 2000s.
This probe helps pack a gap te the research on online dating.
The academic literature and marketing research that documents the rise of online dating and its influence on society has also bot emerging at a swift rhythm. Internet romance has bot the subject of several recently issued books, many journal articles, and a considerable number of graduate theses and dissertations. 21 Yet, much of the available work is either finta specialized te scope or is based on proprietary gegevens, creating challenges for researchers who wish to examine caudillo patterns that might be comparable with other national gegevens on social trends. Furthermore, there wasgoed a need to benchmark the broader use of the internet for dating-related activities, which extend well beyond the restrains of online dating services.
Given that little gegevens on public attitudes and practices had bot gathered through nationally representative surveys, the Pew Internet & American Life Project determined to explore this subject te a survey te the autumn of 2005, after being approached by Dr. Phillip Morgan from Duke University and Dr. Seth Sanders from the University of Maryland. Both researchers had encountered this gap ter available gegevens while conducting work on designing fresh models to explore technology&rsquo,s influence on relationship formation and family switch. The Pew Internet Project, having a collective rente ter studying this opzicht of the internet&rsquo,s social influence, wasgoed uniquely poised to gather fresh gegevens for the field. The results are the ondergrond for this report.