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First date: New Roosevelt study shows women most careful in online dating

Posted: 08/27/2013

Women who meet a first date online are more likely to take safety precautions than they are with someone they don’t know but who asked for the first date in person, a new study by Roosevelt University psychologists shows.

Published in August by Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, the study by psychology professors Jill Coleman, Catherine Campbell and recent Roosevelt PsyD graduate Billie Cali surveyed 82 Roosevelt female students about 13 behaviors that could help protect them on a first date.

These include: telling a friend where you are going; taking your own car; monitoring alcohol intake; meeting in a public rather than private place; carrying enough money for a taxi; having a trusted friend be with you and your date; considering self-defense strategies if the need arises.

The survey participants, ages 18 to 36, were asked to rate how likely it was for them to take the different safety precautions if: they accepted a date with someone they were corresponding with and liked a profile and look on Facebook; or they accepted a date with someone that they didn’t know well but whom they were attracted to in one of their classes.

Among key findings:

• Those surveyed overall were more likely to take precautions on a first date with someone they met online than with someone they met in class.

• The older the participant, the more likely she was to favor taking precautions in either situation.

• Those who had never met a first date through the Internet were the most likely to favor taking safety precautions in an online dating situation.

These and other findings in the new article, “Stranger Danger? Women’s Self-Protection Intent and the Continuing Stigma of Online Dating,” come at a time when online dating and use of the Internet to meet people is becoming the new normal. The number of couples meeting online has increased dramatically in recent years, with studies estimating that as many as a quarter of all couples in the last nine years have met on the Internet.

“People are definitely broadening their dating  pool by using the Internet but our study shows that there’s still a stigma associated with the practice and with those who are doing it,” said Coleman, the project’s lead author and a Mount Prospect, Ill., resident who is a member of the board of the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault (CASA).

One of the more disturbing findings of the research is the tendency for women in dating situations to make their decisions based on stereotypes, the Roosevelt professor said.

“Our data suggests that if online dating is something you’ve never done before, you’re more inclined to think there is something different about someone you meet on the Internet. You might think they’re scary or desperate, which isn’t often the case,” she said.
 
“The fact is that people – and women in particular – need to be mindful of safety no matter which scenario they are in,” Coleman added. “We shouldn’t be buying into stereotypes about who is dangerous and who isn’t based on how we’ve met them.”

The study also suggests that Black women are more likely than white women to take safety precautions on first dates – no matter the circumstances.

That finding has led Coleman to consider whether the stereotype of women as passive on first dates is something more often embraced as acceptable behavior by White women than Black women. She also will be doing further research this fall on peoples’ reaction to passive vs. aggressive behaviors by women in dating situations.

Cali, who received a bachelor’s in psychology from Roosevelt in 2006 and a PsyD doctorate from the University in 2012, worked with Coleman last academic year on the research that became part of her dissertation on the importance of healthy relationships in avoiding dating violence. A resident of Mount Prospect, Ill., she became interested in the topic while doing a field experience for her PsyD as a counselor at a Northwest suburban Wings shelter for women.

“While I was at Wings and working with women who had been victims of dating violence, it struck me that you can’t always control what happens, but you can take steps to protect yourself,” said Cali.

“There are many easy steps you can take – like telling people where you are going or monitoring alcohol intake.  These are simple things and I found it interesting that the women in our survey weren’t always thinking about doing them – particularly if the date was someone they’d met but really didn’t know well,” she said.

To view the Men's Health article on the visit:     : .http://news.menshealth.com/why-you-cant-get-an-online-date/2013/08/15/