Hancock, J.T., Toma, C., & Fenner, K. (2008). I know something you don’t: Use of asymmetric personal information for interpersonal advantage. Proceedings of the ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2008). (Acceptance Rate: 16%; Top Note Nomination)


With the widespread use of social networking sites, it is easy to acquire a great deal of personal information about someone before meeting them. How do people use this information when initiating relationships? In the present study, participants either had access to an unknown partner’s Facebook profile or did not, and were instructed to get their partners to like them in a short instant messaging conversation. Participants used social network and profile information in two ways: probes, asking questions whose answer they already knew, and implicit mentions, referencing information that made them seem more similar to their partner. These strategies successfully increased interpersonal attraction. Participants, however, frequently rated these strategies as deceptive, raising important concerns about the use of asymmetrical personal information for interpersonal gain.