There's this generally accepted wisdom out there that on the internet, people lie about themselves freely. Recently, we pointed to a study that found, actually, people are pretty honest
about themselves when creating social networking profiles. At the time, we noted that this might just be because on social networking sites people know they're connecting (mostly) with friends who already know them -- and then there are social mores against lying about yourself. However, we wondered if the same would be true on dating sites. We don't quite have the answer to that yet, but Nancy Baym
points us to a study that says that daters who exaggerate about themselves are equally likely to exaggerate about themselves in real life as well
. That is, the exaggeration has nothing to do with it being online, and everything to do with what kind of person they are.
Furthermore, the study found that those who lie online aren't doing it to necessarily be manipulative -- but because they want to better "fit in." So, it's more about appearing "normal," rather than appearing exceptional in some way.
Oh, and as for the overall amount of lying? It was actually "quite small," because the online daters hope to actually meet in person with the people they meet online, they know that lying in the dating profile will also quickly be discovered.