Hence, consistent with Ramirez and Zhang ( 2007) the present study examined two outcomes drawn from POV theory ( Sunnafrank, 1986) relevant to online dating: information seeking and POV forecasts. Evaluation of the attractiveness of a potential partner is determined primarily through communication and information acquisition, resulting in a POV forecast ( Sunnafrank, 1986). Ramirez and Zhang ( 2007) reported that partners who engaged in an early switch to FtF interaction report a more positive POV forecast, a reduction in uncertainty, and an increase in information seeking. Yet, individuals experiencing a late switch reported a lowered POV forecast, an increase in uncertainty, but a continued increase in information seeking. These combined results suggest a curvilinear association between the continuous indicator of time spent communicating online prior to meeting FtF, and daters’ POV upon switching to FtF. Ramirez and Zhang’s results also showed that information seeking displayed a linear pattern irrespective of length of association. This latter finding was inconsistent with what would be predicted from a modality switching perspective, thus only a research question is posed for information seeking.
H2: The amount of time spent communicating online prior to meeting FtF will be curvilinearly associated with perceptions of outcome value predictions (POV).
RQ1: What is the association between the amount of time spent communicating online prior to meeting FtF and information seeking?
Participants were recruited by a market research firm that maintains panels of Internet users. Respondents recruited for the present study had participated in an online dating site during the previous 3 months and met at least one partner from the site FtF during that period. The final sample of 433 respondents (168 men, 265 women) reported an average age of years (SD = ), had a median annual income range of $35,001-$50,000, and were primarily Caucasian/White (n = 359, 83%), and college educated (n = 329, 76% reported at least some college). Additionally, respondents had months (SD = 9.84) of total experience using various Internet dating sites, with 9.01 (SD = 5.22) of these months attributed to the dating site where they met the partner that was reported on for the present study.
Procedure and measures
Following initial recruitment via e-mail by the market research firm announcing the nature and availability of the study as well as the participation criteria described above, potential participants were directed to a webpage containing a human subjects consent form and two prescreening questions. The first question asked respondents to confirm that they had participated in an online dating site during the preceding 3 months, and the second asked them to confirm that they had indeed met with a partner in person during that time period. Respondents who failed to respond affirmatively to both questions were redirected to a webpage indicating they were ineligible for the study, and eligible respondents were connected to the study’s website. Irrespective of whether they qualified for the study, all respondents were provided a nominal reward from the market research firm for their participation.
Upon entering the study website, eligible participants were informed that they would be asked a series of questions regarding their most recent instance in which they met a potential partner on an online dating site and eventually met him/her in person. They were told to keep this person in mind for the remainder of the survey, and were then presented with a series of demographic questions about themselves as well this partner. Next, they were presented with items regarding their relationship, including who initiated contact on the site, estimates of the number of photographs each individual posted down dating on their profile, and the use of additional communication channels prior to the FtF meeting. Based on a review of the relevant literature (for pertinent reviews, see Gibbs, et al., 2006; Finkel et al., 2012), these variables were assessed as potential control variables in the analyses. e., still dating, no longer dating).