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Older adults are utilizing online dating websites in increasing numbers.
Older adults are likely to present themselves positively and emphasize their existing relationships and health. We collected 4,000 dating profiles from two popular websites to examine age differences in self-presentations.
We used stratified sampling to obtain a sample equally divided by gender, aged 18–95 years.
We identified 12 themes in the profiles using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software (Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007). Regression analyses revealed that older adults were more likely to use first-person plural pronouns (e.g., we, our) and words associated with health and positive emotions.
Younger adults were more likely to use first-person singular pronouns (e.g., I, my) and words associated with work and achievement. Findings suggest that younger adults enhance the “self” when seeking romantic partnership.
In contrast, older adults are more positive in their profiles and focus more on connectedness and relationships to others.
Due to societal trends and deceased stigma, online dating is now one of the most common ways for adults of all ages to find a romantic partner (Rosenfeld & Thomas, 2012; Stephure, Boon, Mac Kinnon, & Deveau, 2009).
Indeed, popular media report that more older adults are finding dates online (Watson, 2013) with one source claiming that adults aged 60 and older represent the largest growing segment of adults using online dating websites (Ellin, 2014).As such, online profiles provide a unique opportunity to examine similarities and differences in younger and older adults’ self-presentations when seeking a dating partner.Self-presentation plays a central role in finding dating partners; potential partners use this information to decide whether to start a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987).Few studies have examined age differences in dating self-presentations (e.g., Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009; 2013; Mc Williams & Barrett, 2014) and have relied on content analysis and qualitative analysis.A systematic quantitative analysis of the language adults use in dating profiles may further illuminate motivations to date at different ages.Adults of all ages may share certain motivations to date, including companionship and romance.