Whether you’re trying to find your perfect match on an online dating site or are meeting new friends on social media, you probably wonder, are people who they say they are online?

I turned to the science to discover how accurate online profiles really are. Check it out:

According to acclaimed researcher Simine Vazire, people can accurately guess four of the Big Five personality traits:

  • Extraversion – how much alone versus social time people want.
  • Openness – how willing people are to try new things.
  • Agreeableness –  how easily people agree to do believe in and/or do things.
  • Conscientiousness – how meticulous people are in everything they do from their job to organizing their home.

When looking at people’s profiles, trust your what you instinct says about them because, chances are, it’s correct. The only trait that you can’t reliably guess from people’s profiles is their level of neuroticism, also known as emotional stability. You often can’t tell how neurotic a person is until you’ve seen them deal with a stressful situation.

Reading Online Profiles is Like Going on a First Date

If you’ve ever looked at an online profile and you thought the person seems too perfect to be real, you’re probably right.

Online dating and social media profiles represent people’s best selves.

They showcase the traits that people are the most proud of and leave out the rest. Before you jump to the conclusion that when people paint a perfect picture of themselves they’re being deceptive, think about it this way: people create their profiles similar to the way they prepare for first dates. When people go on first dates, they look their best, talk about their interesting hobbies and experiences, and do everything they can to impress their date so they want to continue going out with them. Regardless of whether people are meeting online or in-person, they want to make a good impression.

Instead of worrying about how true people’s profiles are, think about what it says about them that they believe their profile is the most attractive representation of themselves.

As you look at online profiles, ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s their profile picture like? Is it a selfie in the wilderness? A photo with friends? Think about what impression it gives you.
  • What types of things do they like or say they like? It reveals their interests.
  • What do they post most frequently about? Those are often the things they value most.

Research Reveals the Lies on Online Dating Profiles

While you can accurately judge someone’s personality from their profile, there are some things that, statistically speaking, people lie about.

One study found that 81% of people lie on their online dating profiles. The top two traits that people lie about is their height and weight. However, there is no need to panic. The study reported that the lies most people make on the profiles are too small to be noticeable in person. On average, people’s actual weight was only 5.6% different than what they reported on their profile and their height was only 1.1% different.

The secret to avoiding falling for someone who doesn’t look like their pictures is to meet in person as soon possible. Even a short coffee date is enough to see if you’re attracted to the person and to strengthen your bond.  


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