But there's a downside: Anonymity on the Internet means people aren't always totally honest in their personal ads. So how do you sniff out a dating profile with fudged information? In their study of 78 online profiles, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have identified the top tell-tale signs of an online dating liar:
Tell-tale signs of an online dating liar:
- People who fibbed in their profiles were less likely to use the first-person pronoun "I". "Liars do this because they want to distance themselves from their deceptive statements," explains study spokesperson Catalina Toma.
- They were more likely to use negation words like "no" and "not". (For example, "not sad" instead of happy, or "not boring" instead of exciting).
- Liars tended to write shorter self-descriptions in their profiles to avoid weaving a more tangled web of deception. "The less they write, the fewer untrue things they may have to remember and support later," says Toma.
- Daters who lied about their age, height or weight or had included an inaccurate photo also tended to avoid discussing their appearance in their written descriptions, choosing instead to talk about their work or life achievements.
So what's most commonly lied about in dating profiles? Weight, say the researchers, with women subtracting an average of 8.5 pounds from their actual weight while men were off by 1.5 pounds. Half lied about their height, and nearly 20 percent changed their age.