When first comes love (or Lust): How romantic and sexual cues bias first impressions in online social networking

  • Dillman Carpentier F
  • Parrott M
  • Northup C
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Three experimental studies (N = 286) tested how priming the concepts of sex or romance influence the way people perceive other social media users. Participants first completed a word-search task containing sexual (intercourse, lust), romantic (love, heart), or control words. Participants then evaluated a target?s sexual qualities and romantic qualities based on social media profiles, as well as rated their acceptance of the priming stimuli. Results suggested that sex primes led participants to judge targets as being more alluring, racy, and provocative, whereas romance primes led participants to judge targets as being more tender, sentimental, and kind. Both men and women found all primes to be equally acceptable content; women were not averse to these mainstream, non-explicit sexual stimuli. Findings are discussed in terms of viewing sex and romance as distinct, yet related networks of concepts and the need to disentangle sex, romance, and sexualized views of romance.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Impression formation
  • Priming
  • Romance
  • Sex
  • Social media
  • Social networking

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  • Francesca R. Dillman Carpentier

  • M. Scott Parrott

  • C. Temple Northup

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