When people reach for a white lie on a dating app this is what they usually opt for, according to a recent study.
Everyone wants to sound interesting to make themselves more attractive on dating apps. But without body language signals or tone of voice cues, getting to really know someone through an app can be more than a little challenging - especially since you kind of have to believe what your match tells you.
Which is why researchers at Stanford University decided to find out if we’re all telling white lies to secure dates. For the study, the researchers analysed 3,000 messages sent from 200 people during the ‘discovery phase’, the time between when two people match and when they go on their first date. Each participant was then asked to rate how dishonest they’d been in their initial exchanges. As it turns out, telling white lies on dating apps is actually pretty rare, with only 7% admitting to reaching for a fib.
However, the majority of lies told were ‘butler lies’, a term coined by the researchers to refer to a lie that helps a person manage their social availability. “Always being available might come across as being desperate,” explained David Markowitz, researcher and assistant professor of communication. “Therefore, people will lie about their availability or their current activity.”
According to the research, published in the Journal of Communication, around 30% of the lies told were ‘butler lies’. This type of lie saw people send messages relating to being too exhausted to meet up due to work or a conflict of schedules in a bid to avoid meeting face-to-face.
A third accounted for deceptive messages, which the researchers called ‘self-presentation lies’. In short: people pretended to share similar interests with the person they’d matched with. In one example, the authors cited the message: “Haha all I want is to walk into a grocery store and buy the entire shelf of Bold Rock” (which was, they explained, “exaggerating the desire to buy an entire shelf of hard cider and making the self appear witty or interesting”).
And others opted to send messages saying they’d be there soon to meet their date, when in fact they weren’t planning on showing up. Rude, right?
Fear not because the majority of people are being truthful. “The data suggests that mobile dating deceptions are strategic and relatively constrained. Most of the messages people report sending are honest and this is a positive step towards building trust in a new romantic relationship,” Markowitz explained.
Let’s keep swiping…