Toma, C.L. & Hancock, J.T. (2010). Reading between the Lines: Linguistic Cues to Deception in Online Dating Profiles. Proceedings of the ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010), 5-8. [Acceptance rate: 20%]


This study investigates whether deception in online dating profiles is detectable through a linguistic approach, which assumes that liars nonconsciously produce different word patterns than truth-tellers. We objectively measure deception in online dating profiles and analyze the linguistic composition of the open-ended component of the profile (i.e., “about me” section) using computerized text analysis. Results show that profile deceptions correlate with fewer self-references, increased negations, fewer negative emotion words and fewer overall words used in the textual self-description. Results are discussed in terms of (1) practical implications for detecting deception in online profiles; and (2) theoretical implications regarding the impact of media affordances (i.e., asynchronicity and editability) on the occurrence of linguistic cues to deception.