I think we’ve all heard this advice in some form, but now here’s science to back it up.
In a study on online dating, researchers created sample dating profiles and adjusted two different types of information:
- The first type, they called “selective self-presentation.” This referred to the number of positive self statements made in the dating profile. For example, “I have an amazing network of friends,” or “I have a high-level job with multiple responsibilities,” are statements that make the dater look good — bragging, basically.
- The second type they called “warranting.” This referred to the presence of corroborating sites in the dating profile. For example, if the profile had a link to a personal biography page, or a blog the person regularly contributes to — showing, basically.
The researchers found that a preponderance of selective self-presentation tended to decrease the response rate to a dating profile, because the people were perceived as being less trustworthy and socially attractive.
On the other hand, warranting did increase interest, because it made people look more attractive without them having to resort to bragging.
The lesson is clear: When it comes to online dating, show, don’t tell.