Matt Reid

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Whitney Gunter

Second Advisor

Dr. Angie Moe

Third Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann


Gay men, online dating, personals, homosexuality, content analysis

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Personal advertisements have long been valued by researchers for evaluating norms relating to love and romance in any given societal context. Using thematic, directed content analysis on ads placed on a popular online dating website, this exploratory study seeks to uncover the various ways by which gay and straight men craft an image of the ideal self.

Results largely diverge from previous studies, most of which were conducted prior to the advent of online dating and at a time in a society where homosexuality was more taboo. The current study found that gay men, more often than straight men, employ props emphasizing their superior education. It was also found that gay men explicitly seek long-term relationships through online dating more so than straight men. In contrast to that, and consistent with previous studies, gay men were also more likely to elicit casual sex than straight men. However, counter to previous studies and popular stereotypes, gay men were no more or less likely to employ a prop indicating a sexual theme.

This study is of sociological value because the gay community, as a marginalized group, benefits from any research which increases knowledge and understanding of their lifestyle.