OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Catfish Relationship Initiation from the Perspective of Targets and Perpetrators


Holly Timblin


A catfish refers to a person who creates a false online identity to pursue a romantic relationship. Perpetrators of catfish relationships never intend to meet the target in person. The present research assessed catfish targets and perpetrators (N = 982) using an online survey that asked about their relationship initiation. Participants were recruited from a university pool and through announcements on Craig’s List, Facebook, and Psychology Today. Qualitative data to open-ended questions were coded using the constant comparative method. The most commonly reported themes are listed here; the presentation will provide the complete results. We examined responses to the following questions: “How did you meet your catfish partner?”; “Why did you get involved with your catfish partner”; “How did you initially feel upon meeting your catfish partner?” We found that catfish relationships tend to initiate on social media sites (e.g., Facebook), commercial dating sites (e.g., Plenty of Fish), and chatrooms. Targets reported feeling nervous, interested, and excited when their relationships began. Perpetrators felt nervous and scared that the targets would discover the deceit; however, they also described feeling excited and mysterious. Perpetrators reported initiating contact with their partners because they found them attractive, thought the relationship would be fun, and because they were feeling desperate or bored. Targets got involved with their partners because they found them attractive, perceived of similar interests, and liked their personality. Targets also reported feeling authentic connections with their partners and comforted by their correspondence with them. The presentation concludes with directions for future research.

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