Market metaphor online dating

While every generation will lament anew the fact that finding love is hard, history seems to indicate that this particular social ritual never gets any easier or less exciting. I recently spoke with Weigel about her book, and a lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Bourree Lam: Your book begins with the fact that dating essentially started when women started working.

Relationshopping Investigating The Market Metaphor In Online Dating

Investigating the market metaphor in online dating Rebecca D. Heino, Nicole B. Ellison and Jennifer L. Gibbs Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Additional services and information for Journal of Social and Personal Relationships can be found at: Email Alerts: In this manuscript we explore the ways in which the marketplace metaphor resonates with online dating participants and how this conceptual framework influences how they assess themselves, assess others, and make decisions about whom to pursue.

Taking a metaphor approach enables us to highlight the ways in which participants language shapes their self-concept and interactions with potential partners. Qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with 34 participants from a large online dating site revealed that the marketplace metaphor was salient for participants, who employed several strategies that reflected the assumptions underlying the marketplace perspective including resisting the metaphor.

We explore the implications of this metaphor for romantic relationship development, such as the objectification of potential partners. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Communication Association, All correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rebecca D. Larry Erbert was the Action Editor on this article. Reprints and permissions: Online dating the use of Internet services designed to facilitate interactions between potential romantic partners has become common practice for many.

The process by which individuals create a self-presentational profile, search for and assess others profiles, and initiate interaction using these online tools diverges from traditional face-to-face relationship formation patterns in key ways, although the communication is guided by the same underlying motivation to connect romantically with another. Important differences between mediated and traditional matchmaking are due to these sites technical affordances, such as database-driven search queries, which affect the process by which individuals present themselves and assess potential romantic partners.

What conceptual frameworks do individuals draw upon in order to make sense of this communication environment? One possibility is that they draw upon familiar conceptual schema and communication scripts, such as economic metaphors that deal with the presentation and selection of goods. In other words, they shop. Scholars in fields such as economics, sociology, marketing, and communication among others have utilized economic models to study relationship initiation as an analytic framework to explain overall mate-selection behavior Becker, ; Roloff, They have also researched economic models as metaphors e.

The term marriage market was coined by Gary Becker in his original work creating a model of the economics of marriage, although this term has been applied to the dating market as well. In their examination of online dating sites, Fiore and Donath propose that online personals systems would seem to provide the ideal example of a marriage market p. Marketing for top online dating sites reinforces this assessment.

For example, Match. Like many other online dating sites, Match. The ability to specify search criteria allows individuals to concentrate on others who have desirable qualities,. The functionality of most online dating sites allows participants to look for partners using a search engine that filters out profiles that do not meet the stated criteria such as age or location. Online dating also encourages economic-based self-presentation in the form of what Arvidsson calls commodification of affect as users engage in a branding process while constructing their profiles to attract others.

Metaphors are conceptual frameworks that allow individuals to make sense of new concepts by drawing upon familiar experiences and frameworks. This metaphor of the marketplace a place where people go to shop for potential romantic partners and to sell themselves in hopes of creating a successful romantic relationship is highlighted by the layout and functionality of online dating websites, which evoke e-commerce sites such as Amazon. The marketplace metaphor may also resonate with participants conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.

In our analysis, we examine whether this metaphor is embraced by participants and if so, how it affects their online dating behavior and interaction. We also explore the potentially problematic implications of this metaphor, such as an emphasis on commodification and efficiency rather than the communicative process of creating and sustaining relationships. To our knowledge, this study is the first to look at the language and metaphors employed by users of online dating sites to describe their experiences.

Romantic relationship formation in mediated environments Although many forms of computer-mediated communication CMC can support the development of romantic relationships, online dating sites have the explicit goal of connecting individuals with potential romantic partners. We focus on ways in which online dating sites facilitate searching for and choosing potential romantic partners.

While other recent literature has investigated the use of Internet technologies for relational maintenance e. In online dating, this involves both self-presentation to attract others and assessment of others profiles for potential matches. When forming relationships, individuals experience pressure to present themselves as attractive and desirable Hirschman, Positive first impressions are desired in traditional and online dating environments, but the technical affordances of online media may make this need more salient.

The market metaphor in dating Research has explored the use of metaphors to understand relationship development e. The process of developing relationships is complex, and individuals often use metaphors to help make sense of their experience Baxter, As Burke writes, Metaphor is a device for seeing something in terms of something else. It brings out the thisness of a that, or the thatness of a this p. It is this misfit of the literal application that opens up distinctive features of the non-literal term Searle, For example, in Marleys work on metaphors of identity in dating ads, she found that the use of the word kitten to describe a desirable female implied a younger woman with characteristics similar to a young cat, such as cuteness or dependence.

Not only are metaphors a form of vivid and expressive language, they afford different ways of viewing the world Ortony, , p. Lakoff and Johnson argue that our conceptual systems are created from metaphors and our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people p. Therefore metaphors create the world we live by.

The accentuation of some features, while. Thus, metaphors guide us to understand concepts in certain terms and through certain values. For example, the metaphorical concept time is money emphasizes that time is a limited resource and valuable commodity, and thus encourages consideration of how to budget or invest time. Dating metaphors that have been studied include everything from love as a journey Lakoff, to relationship development as an uncontrollable force Baxter, to animal references in dating ads such as seeks pussycat to pamper Marley, Such metaphors are important as they influence how relationships are conceptualized, as well as how people interact as they go about forming them.

Economy-based metaphors have proved to have an immense explanatory power to explicate the processes of exchange and negotiation Bracker, , p. Economic metaphors for romantic relationships existed long before online dating. When courtship behaviors changed from chaperoned visits to a home into dates, where couples left the home to go to restaurants or movie theaters, courtship became a commercial entity Bailey, Ahuvia and Adelman found that market metaphors around consumption potential partners as a package and selling sell yourself were more common than romantic metaphors such as creating magic when participants described their experience using a matchmaking service, but were later replaced by other metaphors such as chemistry after participants formed relationships.

Ahuvia and Adelman attribute this to the way in which these services highlight the social exchange bargaining aspects of dating, so the metaphors salience might be limited to relationship initiation. They also found that the characterization of individuals as products felt dehumanizing to some of the participants, and was therefore offensive. At the same time, the market metaphor allowed for an assessment of the long-term benefits of being in a relationship that went beyond the initial emotional advantages.

Baxter found that the exchange metaphor in relationships implied that the success of the relationship was seen as the smooth coordination of each persons wants and needs. In looking at dating ads as a self-commodification process, Coupland found that individuals both adhered to norms of commodification principles using established categories that would be attractive to others and also resisted them by humanizing and personalizing their ads.

These studies show that the economic or exchange metaphors, while easy to critique, also offered insights into identity and relationship development that were salient to the participants. Building upon earlier literature, which considers the marketplace metaphor and its application to earlier forms of mediated relationship initiation,. If metaphorical language influences and structures thoughts and behaviors, online dating is a relevant and important context to understand whether the market metaphor shapes participants experience, as well as to explore possible theoretical and pragmatic implications.

This leads to our research questions: Is the market metaphor salient for online dating participants? If so, how do market metaphors influence their communication strategies and behaviors? Method Research site Our participants were members of one of the largest online dating services, referred to by the pseudonym Connect. We received permission to interview and survey participants of this online dating company and, in return, we gave them a market research report.

We received no funding from the company, except for their provision of an incentive of a free one-month subscription to interview participants. Similar to other online dating services, this service allows users to create profiles, search others profiles, and communicate via a double-blind e-mail system. In profiles, participants have the option to include a photo and a written open-ended self-description and their desired mate.

They also answer a battery of closed-ended questions about descriptors such as height, salary, religion, marital status, and alcohol use. Participants can search for potential partners by filtering through thousands of profiles, narrowing the field according to specific characteristics or demographic descriptors, and then e-mail these individuals through the providers website. Data collection This manuscript is part of a larger project investigating self-presentation and initial relationship formation in online dating, using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

We took an inductive approach based on general research questions informed by literature on online self-presentation and relationship formation. Reminder e-mails were sent within one. Out of 76 volunteers, 36 were selected and contacted by the authors to arrange an interview although two were unable to participate due to scheduling issues. We chose participants to ensure a variation in demographics e. Respondents were current Connect. Interviews were semi-structured to ensure that all participants were asked certain questions yet allowed the freedom to raise other relevant issues.

The interview protocol included open-ended questions about participants online dating history and experiences, profile construction, perceived differences between online and traditional dating, assessment of others online, ways in which online dating had changed their approaches to dating and perceptions of their own desirability, perceived effectiveness of online dating, and demographics. Although we analyzed the entire data set, three items specifically probed the marketplace concept: Has the knowledge that there are thousands of profiles available online changed the way you go about dating?

If yes, how? Data analysis After the phone interviews were transcribed, they were checked for accuracy by the researcher who conducted the interview. Transcription generated pages of single-spaced text. All audiotapes and interview transcripts were labeled with pseudonyms to ensure coordination among materials and to preserve confidentiality. Interview transcripts were analyzed using Atlas. Analyses were conducted in four steps. First, using open coding, the first two authors collaborated by coding alternative transcript line-by-line.

Second, after the data were coded once and the emergent categories such as more picky online and efficiency were identified, each author coded the data again to ensure that categories were thorough and accurate. In the third step, codes indicating participant strategies that were influenced by the market metaphor were highlighted. For example, the more picky online category was found to reveal several strategies for calibrating ones selectivity in terms of choosing others of equal or greater desirability.

After these four coding steps, the larger thematic structure, which will be discussed in the follow section, emerged.

the market metaphor in online dating. Rebecca D. Heino Georgetown University, USA. Nicole B. Ellison Michigan State University, USA. PDF | In this manuscript we explore the ways in which the marketplace metaphor resonates with online dating participants and how this.

Investigating the market metaphor in online dating Rebecca D. Heino, Nicole B. Ellison and Jennifer L. Gibbs Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Additional services and information for Journal of Social and Personal Relationships can be found at:

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Market Metaphor Online Dating


Relationshopping- Investigating the Market Metaphor in Online Dating





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