Proofreading Your Dating Profile Could Make You More Attractive…But Only to Certain People

it's a graphic image with proofreading marks that indicate "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"
Image by volkspider / CC BY

Since I’ve studied linguistics and particularly have enjoyed psycholinguistics (a field of study sometimes also known as the psychology of language), I am not one of those people who fly around everywhere correcting everyone else’s grammar.

I’m instead more interested in how language is used in everyday life (whether or not that lines up with the correct way to structure communication). This is sometimes called descriptive grammar. It’s different than prescriptive grammar, which is the kind of grammar we usually are taught in public schools. The thou shalts and shalt nots of writing.

I tend to be rather folksy on this blog and in general. As long as I’m understood, I don’t fret about most grammar rules or about breaking them. Again, so long as I’m understood. (If I do find a typo here after I post something, which happens, I generally go in and fix it.)

That said, there are times when I’m completely wowed by how incomprehensible a lot of online dating profiles are.

Some of them stunningly violate the norms of both prescriptive and descriptive grammar in one fell swoop. Violating rules and also managing to not aid in effective communication or even come close to “how people normally speak” (even informally, in online or chat speak).

Oh well. Language evolves.

Anyway, I do know that I’m personally less likely to respond to a person whose dating profile has enough errors that it becomes difficult for me to understand what they’re trying to communicate.

I don’t consider myself a prescriptive grammarian by any means, but if I’m being honest, it does seem to make a poor first impression on me if a dating profile is terribly written. And I’ve heard similar from other people I know.

And that’s why I found a study I stumbled across lately particularly fascinating.

Individuals Dating Profiles With Language Errors Considered Less Attractive — But Are Only Noticed By a Subset of People

I stumbled across a really interesting study lately that looked into the way that typos and language errors on dating profiles might shape of the impressions of people viewing them.

Here’s what the study found:

  • Most people don’t actually notice typos and other language errors on dating profiles.
  • The subset of people who do notice typos and other language errors on on dating profiles develop a more negative impression of the person whose profile they are viewing.
  • The profile owners are also consistently rated as less attractive by the people who notice typos on their profiles.

Or in other words, most people don’t care about such things. But those who do seem to care rather consistently about it.

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This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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1 Comment

  1. Yes as a rule if they don’t understand how to put at least a description of who they are or don’t even make the effort to do an about me in their profile most notably on FL I either suggest politely to improve their description or don’t look at them further. It’s also why I consistently read your posts.

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