Study: Originality in dating profile texts

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We just published a new paper in PLOS One titled “Originality in online dating profile texts: How does perceived originality affect impression formation and what makes a text original?”. We find that owners of dating profile texts that are seen as original are seen as more intelligent and as having a better sense of humor. Moreover, by combining survey research with a content analysis of profile texts, we were able to identify what makes a dating site text original. Using concrete self-discloscures (e.g., I make a great Tom Ka Kai soup) and original metaphors (I’m not a great star in the kitchen, but there is a twinkle).

The study has been picked up by the Guardian, and I can proudly say that I finally have a tabloid article (in the Daily Mail). The abstract is liseted below and you can read the full paper (open access) here: All credit goes to the study’s first author: Tess van der Zanden.


This paper investigates origins and consequences of perceived profile text originality. The first goal was to examine whether the perceived originality of authentic online dating profile texts affects online daters’ perceptions of attractiveness, and whether perceptions of (less) desired partner personality traits mediate this effect. Results showed the positive impact of perceived profile text originality on impression formation: text originality positively affects perceptions of intelligence and sense of humor, which improve impressions of attractiveness and boost dating intention. The second goal was to explore what profile text features increase perceptions of profile text originality. Results revealed profile texts which were stylistically original (e.g., include metaphors) and contained more and concrete self-disclosure statements were considered more original, explaining almost half of the variance in originality scores. Taken together, our results suggest that perceived originality in profile texts is manifested in both meaning and form, and is a balancing act between novelty and appropriateness.

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