How gender role stereotypes affect attraction in an online dating scenario

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University of Alabama Libraries

Today, it is not uncommon to meet someone and begin a romantic relationship on the internet. Meeting on a dating website differs from meeting in person because a dating profile is created first that allows others to review potential romantic partners. Few studies have examined romantic attraction within an online dating context, and even fewer have examined how gender roles may influence attraction. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 (N = 447, 49.4% female) examined the effects of gender role congruence and physical attractiveness on romantic interest. Study 2 (N = 234, 100% female) examined if the effects of gender roles and physical attractiveness extended to changes in women’s self-presentation. In both studies participants viewed online dating profiles that varied in their physical attractiveness and adherence to gender role norms. Study 1 results indicated that both men and women prefer attractive and gender role incongruent dating partners over average looking and gender role congruent. For Study 2, profile gender role congruence or incongruence did not appear to have an effect on women’s self-presentation; however, there was a significant increase in self-reports of masculine traits over the sessions disregarding profile gender role congruence. This may suggest that being in a dating situation could increase women’s self-presentation of masculine traits. The results of these studies go against current major theories and demonstrate a need for these theories to be altered to accommodate for the way gender roles truly play a role in our society today.

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Social psychology