Who looks for casual dates on the internet – shy people or sex-lovers?

Research has dealt with the consequences of seeking casual partners online, but has been silent about its antecedents. To address this research gap, this study tested two hypotheses. The compensation hypothesis states that people high in dating anxiety and low in physical self-esteem seek casual dates online because the features of online communication (e.g. reduced cues, anonymity, controllability) allow them to compensate for the deficits experienced in offline dating. The recreation hypothesis proposes that sexually-permissive people and high sensation-seekers will look for casual partners online because they value the anonymity of the internet. Multivariate analyses of a survey of 729 Dutch adults supported the recreation hypothesis, but not the compensation hypothesis. Sexually-permissive people and high sensation-seekers looked for casual partners online more frequently than sexually-restrictive people and low sensation-seekers. Dating anxiety and physical self-esteem, in contrast, were unrelated to the seeking of casual partners online.

Source: “Who looks for casual dates on the internet? A test of the compensation and the recreation hypotheses” from New Media & Society, Vol. 9, No. 3, 455-474 (2007)

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