Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Scripts for Online Dating: A Model and Theory of Online Romantic Relationship Initiation

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Sandra Faulkner (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Thomas Mascaro (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sung-Yeon Park (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Monica Longmore (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Deborah Wooldridge (Committee Member)


This study examined online dating practices by exploring the process and scripts for online dating from both sites and site members. The purpose was to uncover how online daters and sites were responsible for changes from more traditional dating scripts, and to add to Script Theory and Social Information Processing Theory. Ethnographic content analysis of online dating sites and in-depth interviews with online daters were conducted to develop a Model for Online Dating and Online Romantic Initiation Theory. The model presented in this study demonstrated how scripts in the online dating process were reciprocal and how the different levels of scripts worked together. This study also added to knowledge of contemporary courtship and decision-making in terms of love styles, shopping lists, elimination strategies and how singles relate to others.