Journal Article

Digital Dating: Online Profile Content of Older and Younger Adults

Eden M. Davis and Karen L. Fingerman

in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B

Volume 71, issue 6, pages 959-967
Published in print November 2016 | ISSN: 1079-5014
Published online July 2015 | e-ISSN: 1758-5368 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbv042
Digital Dating: Online Profile Content of Older and Younger Adults

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  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Gerontology and Ageing

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Objectives:

Older adults are utilizing online dating websites in increasing numbers. Adults of different ages may share motivations for companionship and affection, but dating profiles may reveal differences in adults’ goals. Theories addressing age-related changes in motivation suggest that younger adults are likely to emphasize themselves, achievements, attractiveness, and sexuality. Older adults are likely to present themselves positively and emphasize their existing relationships and health.

Method:

We collected 4,000 dating profiles from two popular websites to examine age differences in self-presentations. We used stratified sampling to obtain a sample equally divided by gender, aged 18–95 years. We identified 12 themes in the profiles using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software (Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007).

Results:

Regression analyses revealed that older adults were more likely to use first-person plural pronouns (e.g., we, our) and words associated with health and positive emotions. Younger adults were more likely to use first-person singular pronouns (e.g., I, my) and words associated with work and achievement.

Discussion:

Findings suggest that younger adults enhance the “self” when seeking romantic partnership. In contrast, older adults are more positive in their profiles and focus more on connectedness and relationships to others.

Keywords: Aging; Close relationships; Lifespan development; Online dating; Romantic relationships

Journal Article.  6648 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geriatric Medicine ; Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Gerontology and Ageing

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