Researching online dating violence usually focuses on victims and their experiences. However, a recent study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence tried to explain why some people succumb to abusive behavior online, and the answer is, surprisingly, evolution.
The authors of the study from the University of Wolverhampton explain that digital dating abuse is a relatively new kind of dating violence. Hence, their motive was to try and explain what causes it. They conducted an online study among 177 heterosexual adults who currently have a partner and was supposed to track their attitude towards their partner, as well as their opinion on violence and related issues.
Based on the obtained data, the answers to abusive behavior online are mate value discrepancy and intrasexual competition. To put it simply, if a person perceives him or herself as less attractive or desirable than their potential partner, it’s more likely they will resort to some kind of abusive behavior.
Those who scored high on the test, i. e. see themselves as less worthy, were more likely to develop one or more abusive behavior patterns to try and control their partner. These patterns can be negative (manipulation, tracking their location, messages, and calls) and seemingly positive (compliments and showering with gifts).
Recent studies by Pew Research and RealMe revealed that around 50% of Americans believe online dating is unsafe, while 80% of online daters see an increase in scams, catfishing, and other fraudulent actions. A better understanding of human motivation and behaviors is key to making the online dating world a safer place.