Love attitudes and body esteem of Internet personals website users

Corey Matthew Arranz (2006)

This descriptive study was designed to both examine and generate new ideas about aspects of the emerging phenomenon of using Internet personals websites. Specifically, this study focused upon the love attitudes and body esteem of a sample of people who use Internet personals websites. The use of the Internet to meet potentially-compatible dating partners has become more common among single people (Chenault, 1998). Although love attitudes and body esteem are important components of interpersonal attraction and the development of romantic relationships (Morrow, Clark, & Brock, 1995; Watson & Thornhill, 1994), the psychological literature on users of Internet personals websites has not yet addressed these particular components for this population. Using an online survey comprised of a demographic questionnaire, the Love Attitudes Scale (LAS; Hendrick, Hendrick, & Dicke, 1998), and the Body Esteem Scale (BES; Franzoi & Shields, 1984), this study adds to the extant literature on people who use Internet personals websites. An overview of the literature on interpersonal attraction, online personals, Internet communication and relating, love styles, and body image/esteem was used to provide a context for Internet personals website usage and users. Data from the respondents to the online survey (N=259) was analyzed using ANOVAs to examine within-group differences on the LAS and BES as a function of age, and one-sample t-tests to assess whether differences existed between this study's online sample and prior studies' offline samples on these measures. These analyses provided descriptive statistics useful in understanding the Internet user sample. The results indicate that users of Internet personals websites may have somewhat different love attitudes than the offline sample. Specifically, both the male and female groups in the online sample were found to be less endorsing of passionately-, companionately-, and altruistically-based (Lee, 1974) love styles. In addition, the male group was also less endorsing of an obsessive-based love style, while the female group was less endorsing of a practical-based love style than the offline comparison groups. Furthermore, Internet personals website users were found to perceive their own bodies differently than did the offline groups. The findings have implications for research and professional practice.