The need to affiliate with others is an inventible aspect of human nature that is rooted in our biological makeup.Scientists speculate that humans originally formed lasting relationships amongst themselves due to physical vulnerability and survival instinct.However, real-life experience will indicate that not everyone feels this need as greatly as others.
This need for affiliation has been studied in-depth in recent years, and has subsequently been broken into several different areas. Friendship motivation, defined as the need toestablish warm interpersonal relationships, is one of these newly discovered forms.
Friendship motivation has also been broken down into four key components by scientist Hill (1987). Click to view friendship motivation Mindmeister
When the majority of individuals set out to establishinterpersonal relationships they rely on observable characteristics, such as physical attributes, stereotypes, style, and mannerisms.These initial points of judgement in face-to-face encounters usually determine if a relationship willbe established before any actual interaction takes place.
In terms of romantic, intimate relationships these observable characteristics gain even moreemphasis. Many people have a certain ―type‖ of person they are most attracted to.Both negative and positive stereotypes also play a larger role when hunting for potential mates, because the risk is higher.A male who believes the stereotype that beautiful women are materialistic would be more likely to select that woman as a friend, than a potential wife.
As more individuals take to the Internet to find asuitable romantic partner what happens to these observable characteristics? How are first impressions formed?
Many researchers who study online relationships reveal that superficial judgement and stereotypes are often eliminated when users interact online due to the importance of the written word. Personalities and legitimate characteristics are all that remain, causing users to redefine what it means to be ―attractive.‖New research by various sources, including McKenna et al. (2002), shows that removing observable characteristics from newly forming relationships creates longer-lasting bonds and greater levels of satisfaction.
While the majority of these studies were conductedon the chat rooms of the past, it appears the facts hold true in the modern world of online dating, expanding to explain the popularity of online match-making services in recent years. According to a study conducted in 2010 bypremier dating site, Match.com, 1 in 5 people in acommitted relationship met their significant other online.
The study also revealed that 17% of couplesmarried within the last three years, met each other on an online dating site.Considering the study was conducted three yearsago, these statistics are nearly guaranteed to bemuch higher today as nearly all dating sites boast significantly greater user numbers.
So why is online dating so popular? Psychologists and researchers have explanations as varied as the individual users themselves. An extensive study performed by Madden and Lenhart (2006) reveals a number of reasons why people searching for an intimate relationship take their hunt online: 55% of relationship-seeking individuals claim is it difficult to meet people where they live due to geography and a lack of proximity. 47% of Internet users believe online dating helps to facilitate better, more compatible pairings. 44% of online daters believe the method is simply easier than face-to-face encounters.
However, not all online daters and Internet users share the same view.There is a seemingly endless number of blogs that describe the adventures of online dating by users themselves, and while some tell tales that end in happily ever after, others sound eerily similar to the plots of horror films.
Not only does the Internet allow users to communicate with potential suitors, it allows themto educate other online daters on the process and provide advice through such blogs. Click to view online dating blogs
Madden and Lenhart’s 2006 study also addresses the wide-spread stigma associated with online dating: it’s a dangerous act of desperation for those who struggle with interpersonal relationships and face-to-face dialogue.Their findings show that 29% of Internet users believe online daters are in dire dating straits; however studies and experience prove this is not the case.
After interviewing a friend who has used several online dating sites over the last two years, her responses demonstrated the opposite. As a skilled communicator working in multiple positions of customer service and coordination,Jenna meets potential suitors at work on a weekly basis and prides herself on being comfortable in real-life social situations. However, she chooses online dating because ofher busy schedule and the belief that online dating will generate more probable relationships than random face-to-face encounters will.
However, online dating, like all online activities, is not without risk. Madden and Lenhart (2006) claim that 66% ofInternet users believe online dating is a dangerousactivity because it requires personal information to be placed Internet, and they are not alone.We often hear online dating stories where lies resultin a tragic ending or the uncovering of a deceitfulportrayal regarding identity, age, occupation and even gender.
Epstein (2007) agrees, and even reveals personal online dating encounters that prove such deception does occur. ―Cyberspace introduces a host of new possibilities. Survey research conducted by media researcher Jeana Frost of Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that about 20 percent of online daters admit to deception. If you ask them how many other people are lying, however—an interviewing tactic that probably gets closer to thetruth—that number jumps to 90 percent,‖ (Epstein, 2007, p. 31).However, he also raises the point that such deception can also occur in face-to-face dating encounters aswell, and on less extreme scale is generally a common component of dating.
So, with its stigmas, possible risks, and doubts regarding success, is falling in love online even possible? Science says yes.McKenna et al. (2002) discovered in some cases, relationships established online may be more functional than those established in traditional face-to-face encounters.The study found that 70% of relationships founded online were still intact two year later, while only 55% of relationships established face-to-face survived the same duration.
Since the Internet was first integrated into everyday communication, questions have always arisen regarding its safety, authenticity, and morality.Today, as computer mediated communication is commonly used for something as intimate as establishing romantic relationships, these questions play a larger role than ever.However, falling in love online or offline is never straightforward. Regardless of brave onlinetechniques or traditional face-to-face encounters, basic communication is ultimately the key.
Epstein, R. (2007, February 1). The truth about online dating. Scientific American mind, 18(1), 28–35.Madden, M. & Lenhart, A. (2006, March 5). Online dating. In Pew internet & American life project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media/Files/Reports/2006/PIP_Online_Dating.pdf.pdfMatch.com and Chadwick Martin Bailey 2009 - 2010 studies. Retrieved from http://cp.match.com/cppp/media/CMB_Study.pdfShedletsky, L., & Aitken, J. (2004). Human communication on the internet. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon/Longman.Chosen tools from 100+ exmaples of use of social media for learning are:• presentation sharing in the form of Slideshare assignment submission• Social networking in the form of Facebook for interviewing friends who use online dating.• Blogging in the form the three examples of how users who use online dating sites also communicate with peers regarding advice and personal experiences.• Collaborative mind mapping in the form of friendship motivation Mindmeister diagram.
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