We just published a paper in Media Psychology titled: “Creativity, expectancy violations, and impression formation: effects of novelty and appropriateness in online dating profile texts.” In the paper, we study how creativity in online dating sites affects how attractive people come across. It turns out that creativity is not universally valued when it comes to online dating. Too original profile texts, especially those that are a bit inappropriate violate expectations of what is deemed normal in online dating profiles, which makes people less attractive. However, when these violations of whar are expected are positive, then this can make people seem more attractive. Creating an original dating profile text is a fine line between being too awkard and too boring.
The summary of the paper can be found below. The paper is available here and it open access.
This experimental study investigates how novelty and appropriateness – the two criteria of creativity – affect impressions formed of online dating profile owners. More specifically, it examines how both criteria influence perceived romantic attractiveness, and whether expectancy violations and person perceptions (i.e., originality and oddness) mediate these effects. Participants (N = 295) were members of a dating platform who were presented with dating profile texts that met one or both criteria: (a) not novel and appropriate, (b) novel and appropriate, or (c) novel and inappropriate. In line with the expectations, results show that novel texts are less expected, and that their writers are perceived as more original and, in turn, as more romantically attractive. Writers of novel and non-novel texts are evaluated as equally attractive though, suggesting that appropriateness is a stronger determinant of romantic attractiveness. That is, novel texts that are inappropriate violate expectations more negatively than those that are appropriate, increasing oddness and, accordingly, decreasing romantic attractiveness. Findings suggest that novelty and appropriateness are two important creativity dimensions that explain effects of dating profile texts on impression formation. Moreover, we show that the expectancy violations theory is a useful framework to study creativity and impression formation in online dating.