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Men lie more in online dating - except about their weight

He: 'I'm rich, thinking of marriage' She: 'I'm not fat'

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Help is at hand for those who make use of - or perhaps help to run - online dating services. A new study has revealed who is most likely to tell lies about what aspects of themselves when seeking love on the interwebs.

In short, if you go to a romantic rendezvous with someone you met online and they turn out to be a different weight to what they said, that person is probably a woman.

If on the other hand your escort for the evening has lied about how rich they are, what kind of relationship they want to have with you, their past romantic history, their age or their personal interests, that person is probably a man.

These insights and many others were developed by Kansas communication-studies prof Jeffrey Hall and his colleagues, who surveyed more than 5,000 participants in an unnamed "national Internet matchmaking service".

"What people lie about depends on what kind of people they are," Hall says. "For example, if you're an extrovert, you might downplay the number of past relationships you've had because chances are you've had more relationships than an introvert."

According to Hall, lying to prospective love-mates on the internet is "not necessarily manipulative, but rather reflects a desire to be liked and to fit in".

It seems that caddish men lie to online romanta-prospects more than women (or anyway are more likely to admit to doing so in a survey). However in the one specific area of body weight, women tell more lies than men do.

That said, Hall reports that the overall amount of untruthfulness in this context is "quite small" compared to the general online environment, for the simple reason that internet daters expect to meet face-to-face eventually.

Hall's research is published (subscription link) in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. ®

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