Toma, C. & Hancock, J.T. (2012). What lies beneath: The linguistic traces of deception in online dating profiles. Journal of Communication, 62, 78-97.


This article investigates whether deceptions in online dating profiles correlate with changes in the way daters write about themselves in the free-text portion of the profile, and whether these changes are detectable by both computerized linguistic analyses and human judges. Computerized analyses (Study 1) found that deceptions manifested themselves through linguistic cues pertaining to (a) liars’ emotions and cognitions and (b) liars’ strategic efforts to manage their self-presentations. Technological affordances (i.e., asynchronicity and editability) affected the production of cognitive cues more than that of emotional cues. Human judges (Study 2) relied on different and nonpredictive linguistic cues to assess daters’ trustworthiness. The findings inform theories concerned with deception, media, and self-presentation, and also expound on how writing style influences perceived trustworthiness.