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And of course, that "sales executive" turned out to be a telemarketer.
It won't surprise anyone who's tried online dating to learn that eight out of 10 people lie somewhere in their profiles, according to a series of studies funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Hancock, a communications professor at Cornell University who conducted the research over the last few years and explained the findings in a NSF webcast earlier this month.
The guidelines just bring more pressure and make her think of herself as a loser, she said.
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When they're not able to read nonverbal cues, Hancock says, "people automatically think other people are lying." (In fact, he adds, multiple studies have shown that the telephone is the richest medium for fibs: "Oh, yes, I'm on my way," you say, having not yet left the house.) To find out how much lying goes on in the cyber-dating world, Hancock and his colleague, Catalina Toma, recruited hundreds of active online daters in New York City, downloaded their existing profiles and compared those with verifiable data they'd gathered on the participants by measuring heights and weights, looking up age and income records.
The researchers found that while lies were widespread, they were generally very small -- fudging height by an inch or two, subtracting 10 pounds from the scale.
Hancock thinks that as online dating sites are woven into social networks -- where people are linked to a web of real references -- instances of exaggeration will decrease.
But even then, he says, people are still likely to present a version of their best self, even if that's not quite who they are today.
You fudge a little on that and when you actually meet the person, you hope you're interesting enough that they'll overlook it." In another study, Hancock and his colleagues compared online dating profile pictures with snapshots taken in their labs to see how truthfully daters presented themselves visually.