Event Title

False Online Personas: Who Creates Them and Why?

Presenter Information

Kirk Fortini

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Major

Psychology

Session Number

2

Location

RM 217

Juror Names

Moderator: Dr. Renwu Zhang

Start Date

5-21-2015 2:40 PM

End Date

5-21-2015 3:00 PM

Abstract

Catfishing refers to the practice of creating a false online identity where the intent is to form a romantic bond with another person. This involves the catfishing perpetrator making decisions as to the type of persona that they want to create for the target of their deception. They use their own identity as a baseline, and then decide which aspects of it will be changed or maintained in the manufacture of the duplicitous one. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the factors that characterize the catfish perpetrator’s deceptive behavior. Twenty-five interviews were conducted on an ethnically-diverse national sample that was recruited online. Data from perpetrators were qualitatively examined for core themes using the constant comparative method, which involves identifying core themes in participant responses. Some of the themes included: “the different self” where the perpetrator changed their actual identity to reflect a personality that they wanted to “try out;” and “fidelity confirmation,” where the perpetrator was romantically involved with their target beforehand and created the false identity to ascertain the target’s romantic faithfulness. Perpetrators tended to be males who were narcissistic, and who disclosed little about their true selves to their catfish partner. Moreover, the perpetrators’ families of origin were characterized by abuse, mental illness, and affective disorders. Narcissism is one component of the “dark” triad that includes Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Future examination of catfishing is suggested from within this context. Clinical implications for prosocial therapeutic intervention are discussed.

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May 21st, 2:40 PM May 21st, 3:00 PM

False Online Personas: Who Creates Them and Why?

RM 217

Catfishing refers to the practice of creating a false online identity where the intent is to form a romantic bond with another person. This involves the catfishing perpetrator making decisions as to the type of persona that they want to create for the target of their deception. They use their own identity as a baseline, and then decide which aspects of it will be changed or maintained in the manufacture of the duplicitous one. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the factors that characterize the catfish perpetrator’s deceptive behavior. Twenty-five interviews were conducted on an ethnically-diverse national sample that was recruited online. Data from perpetrators were qualitatively examined for core themes using the constant comparative method, which involves identifying core themes in participant responses. Some of the themes included: “the different self” where the perpetrator changed their actual identity to reflect a personality that they wanted to “try out;” and “fidelity confirmation,” where the perpetrator was romantically involved with their target beforehand and created the false identity to ascertain the target’s romantic faithfulness. Perpetrators tended to be males who were narcissistic, and who disclosed little about their true selves to their catfish partner. Moreover, the perpetrators’ families of origin were characterized by abuse, mental illness, and affective disorders. Narcissism is one component of the “dark” triad that includes Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Future examination of catfishing is suggested from within this context. Clinical implications for prosocial therapeutic intervention are discussed.