Little is known about online dating relationships, or the online dating persona that intentionally forms and develops interpersonal relationships through online matchmaking services. Online dating relationships are becoming more prevalent, especially in South Africa. However, research studies focussing on online dating relationships seems to be lacking. Hence, a scientific psychological enquiry into online dating relationships, and more specifically the online dating persona, is indicated. Focussing on 100 online dating members from DatingBuzz, this comparative research study investigated online dating relationships and the online dating persona. More specifically, this study examined, first, online dating relationships specifically within the South African context compared to online dating relationships internationally; and second, the South African online dating persona. This was done by creating a profile focussing on (a) sociodemographic characteristics, (b) personality characteristics, (c) level of emotional intelligence and, (d) life effectiveness skills. A quasi-comparative research design was used with a non-probability, non-random sample of convenience. The realised sample for this research was 100 participants (N=100), with the total sample (n=100) reporting on online dating relationships and 67 participants (n=67) reporting on the online dating persona. The online matchmaking service, DatingBuzz, consented to post an advertisement for research participation. Using an Internet-based questionnaire with preset response categories in a Likert type format, data collection continued consecutively for six months in 2005. Instruments included (a) a set of self-constructed questions assessing online dating relationships and the sociodemographic characteristics of the online dating persona, (b) Sauciers’ 40 Mini-marker Set to examine the Big Five personality traits, (c) the 33-item EIS scale to investigate emotional intelligence and, (d) the LEQ – H to examine life effectiveness skills. The data were statistically analysed using the SAS programme and included descriptive statistics and analysis of variance (ANOVA) in terms of gender, age, relationship status, geographical location and relationship type. Consistent with previous findings, this research study found comparisons between South African and international online dating relationships. Looking at the online dating persona profile, significant findings pertaining to sociodemographic traits, Big Five personality traits, level of emotional intelligence and life effectiveness skills. These preliminary findings are discussed in relations to methodological and research issues.
© University of Pretoria 2007