Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Word Frequency and Online Dating: Self Promotion Through a Text-Based Medium

Word Frequency and Online Dating: Self Promotion Through a Text-Based Medium

Krist Bollano

What used to be seen as a last resort for the desperate, online dating has seen a radical transformation since it began 15-20 years ago. Currently 45 million singles in the United States have turned to online dating to find a partner. Online dating offers the kind of flexibility that traditional dating does not. Users have the ability to describe in their own words themselves and their ideal romantic and/or sexual partner. This research utilizes text-based data from online dating profiles originating in Detroit, Michigan in an effort to understand how individuals self-promote themselves online. In an effort to answer this question, this research study analyzes the correlation between word frequency and self-promotion online. The text from two hundred heterosexual profiles was analyzed from the online dating site to ensure a general population sample in Detroit, Michigan. was chosen due to the fact that it has the largest number of users, it is targeted at the general population, and is a paid subscription—making it an option for users who are serious about dating. The variables used for this analysis were age, income, and gender. The preliminary results indicate that the female users from the selected sample used roughly 100 more words to describe themselves and or their intended partner on their profiles compared to male counterparts. The results imply that females and males represent themselves differently online.

April 6, 2015 - Posted by | abstract


  1. This is VERY cool research that deals with a lot of things I’m interested in, including (but not limited to) how technology and new media forms influence our performances and understandings of self and our interpersonal relationships, how gender binaries are performatively constructed, and Taylor-Swift-level feelings. This research reminds me somewhat of a Ted Talk I saw a few years ago, the social scientist who “cracked” online dating.

    Comment by Kathryn Nowinski | April 21, 2015 | Reply

  2. I think there’s a wealth of information to be found about gender performance in online dating with research such as this. I would like to know more about disparities between your three search parameters: age, income, and gender as it impacts word usage. Also, did you consider a discourse analysis? It seems like it could be possible that although women were using more words they transmit the same amount of information as men. I am unfamiliar with this site; do they have tags for postings or is it all user-imputed text?

    Comment by Laura Cunningham | April 21, 2015 | Reply

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