Winter, S., Haferkamp, N., Stock, Y., & Krämer, N.C. (2011). The digital quest for love – The role of relationship status in self-presentation on social networking sites. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 5(2).

Abstract: Social networking sites (SNS) offer various opportunities for communicating personal information, thus providing an ideal setting for getting in contact with other users. This study investigated whether a person’s relationship status presented on his/her online profile is related to virtual self-presentation on the German Web 2.0 site StudiVZ. Considering the social psychological concept of the “need to belong” (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), we assumed that users who are searching for a relationship make use of certain self-presentational strategies, for example by creating a more detailed profile and placing high priority on the display of a large network of social bonds. An analysis of 100 online profiles showed that singles disclosed more photographs of themselves on their profiles than people in relationships. The highest numbers of friends and wall postings were shown by people who did not reveal their relationship status. Singles displayed more groups on their profile and were more likely to join user groups dealing with parties, sexual statements as well as fun and nonsense. Results therefore indicate that – although SNS are not especially dedicated to dating behavior – self-presentation is nevertheless affected by the potential to form romantic relationships. Therefore, relationship status is suggested as a further factor which affects online impression management, besides, for example, socio-demographic aspects, personality traits and culture.

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