Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Identity Construction in Online Personal Advertising Profiles

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Elizabeth Morgan


Personal advertisements are generally viewed as a tool used to connect individuals for romantic and sexual purposes. Many of these websites allow users to create personal profiles where they can choose how they would like to represent themselves. Individuals can create their identities online based on their own personal perceptions of who they are or the way they wish others would perceive them. While a small body of research has explored the use of deception and self-presentation in online advertising, little research has examined online personal advertisements to better understand identity construction. This project seeks to perform content analyses of public-access online personal ads to explore the use of personal narratives by young adult online dating site users to create a representation of the self. The review of narratives on publicly accessible profiles will provide insight into the types of information users feel is important in a description of themselves with the explicit purpose of finding a romantic or sexual partner. Qualitative analyses will include examination of adjectives, activities, and physical characteristics of each participant as indicators of their desirable identity. It is expected that qualitative analyses of the users’ self narratives, whether real or fictional, will provide clarification regarding what traits individuals view as their most desirable characteristics. Comparisons will be made between male and female profile-holders, as well as between participants seeking short-term relationships and those seeking long-term relationships. The results from this study will help elucidate romantic identity construction among young adults who seek partners online.