Can Mate Choice Strategies Explain Sex Differences? The Deceived Persons’ Feelings in Reaction to Revealed Online Deception of Sex, Age, and Appearance

Stefan Stieger, Tina Eichinger, Britta Honeder

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Online deception is a phenomenon on the Internet, facilitated by restrictions on communication channels. As communication on the Internet is largely exchanged in textual form, deception about personal data such as sex, age, and appearance can be difficult to detect. Research on online deception has been focused thus far on what deceivers lie about and what motivates them to do so. Little is known about how persons feel when they are deceived in an online environment and about whether sex differences exist in the intensity of those feelings. Furthermore, research on online deception largely lacks a theoretical basis. In the current studies, differences between the sexes with respect to their reaction to online deception about sex, age, and appearance were analyzed in a framework of sex-specific mating strategies predicted by evolutionary theory. The results of a structured online interview showed that sex-specific differences in reaction to online gender switching and appearance deception can be explained by mating strategies. Gender switching was found to be more disturbing when committed by a chat partner of the same sex than when committed by a chat partner of the opposite sex. Appearance deception was found to be more disturbing when committed by chat partners of the opposite sex. The data on age deception were not in line with the theory of mate-choice strategies. Even a second online questionnaire study could not entirely clarify the issue but did reveal interfering factors (such as online harassment, legal issues, life expectancy) that probably influence the effect driven by evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychology
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Age deception
  • Appearance deception
  • Evolutionary theory
  • Gender switching
  • Mate choice strategies
  • Online deception
  • Sex differences
  • Sexual selection theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology (all)

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