In young adulthood, individuals engage in identity exploration and focus on self-relevant goals such as accepting responsibility for one’s self and making independent decisions (Arnett, 2000).In contrast, generativity concerns are heightened in midlife and later life, with a focus on the needs of the next generation (An & Cooney, 2006).Individuals’ self-presentations may reflect age differences in motivations for the self and other.
Self-presentation plays a central role in finding dating partners; potential partners use this information to decide whether to start a relationship (Derlega, Winstead, Wong, & Greenspan, 1987).
Few studies have examined age differences in dating self-presentations (e.g., Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009; 2013; Mc Williams & Barrett, 2014) and have relied on content analysis and qualitative analysis.
However, adults of different ages have distinct goals, priorities, and motivations, which their self-presentations to potential dating partners may convey.
Predictions in this study were derived from three key theories—sociocultural theories, evolutionary theory, and socioemotional selectivity theory.
A systematic quantitative analysis of the language adults use in dating profiles may further illuminate motivations to date at different ages.
Adults of all ages may share certain motivations to date, including companionship and romance.
In contrast, older adults are more positive in their profiles and focus more on connectedness and relationships to others.
Due to societal trends and deceased stigma, online dating is now one of the most common ways for adults of all ages to find a romantic partner (Rosenfeld & Thomas, 2012; Stephure, Boon, Mac Kinnon, & Deveau, 2009).
This study explored how goals and motivations across the life span may be relevant to adults’ presentations in their profile content.