It is maybe not about cash: we asked catfish why they deceive people online

It is maybe not about cash: we asked catfish why they deceive people online


Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The University of Queensland

Disclosure statement

Eric Vanman can not work for, consult, very very own stocks in or get financing from any business or organization that will take advantage of this short article, and it has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their scholastic visit.


University of Queensland provides money being a known user associated with discussion AU.

The discussion UK gets funding from the organisations

  • E-mail
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • WhatsApp
  • Messenger

You have probably come across the term “catfish”, first coined in the 2010 documentary of the same name if you have engaged with internet culture at all in recent years.

A catfish is an individual who utilizes information that is false develop a persona online that will not express their real identification. This commonly involves utilizing taken or edited pictures, often extracted from an unwitting alternative party.

Catfish will make use of this information to create a far more version that is appealing of, then participate in continued private interactions with someone (or individuals) that are unacquainted with the deception.

Falling victim to catfish

Within the 2010 documentary, Nev Schulman learns that a female with who he’s got developed an on-line relationship over nine months is really fake. Another married girl (whom initially advertised to be her mom) has utilized photos from the model’s account to produce the complicated, phoney relationship.

There has been a few high-profile situations of catfishing reported in the news since that time.

Singer Casey Donovan, inside her 2014 memoir, published in regards to a six-year relationship that turned out to be fake – inside her situation, the catfish even lied about her sex.

Last year, NBA celebrity Chris Andersen became embroiled in a catfishing scandal that chatstep finished in jail time for the catfish.

Then there’s the popular MTV reality docuseries, hosted by catfish target Nev Schulman himself. Its currently in its 7th period of “taking online romances in to the world” that is real.

A complicated issue

Since 2016, the competition that is australian customer Commission (ACCC) has gathered and posted data on dating and love scams.

Its website provides step-by-step statistics of reported relationship fraudulence in Australia, yet there is certainly information that is little about social catfishing – deception within the lack of economic fraud. Additionally there are questions regarding the legality of impersonating somebody who will not occur.

Until these problems are settled, there is absolutely no clear opportunity to pursue for victims of social catfish. Victims may remain unacquainted with the deception for months or years – another explanation catfishing frequently goes that is unreported it even harder to quantify.

The character faculties of catfish scammers

As smartphones and linked products become more and more pervasive, the probability of dropping target to deception are increasing along side our display time.

Exactly what type of individual becomes a catfish that is social?

We now have started mental research to investigate this concern. Into the year that is past have actually recruited 27 folks from across the world who self-identified as catfish for online interviews.

The interviews concentrated mainly on the motivations and emotions about their catfishing behavior. A few of our key findings included:

  • Loneliness had been mentioned by 41% associated with respondents because the good reason behind their catfishing. One respondent stated:

I recently desired to be much more popular and work out buddies which could communicate with me, some an element of the time.

Other people advertised that the childhood that is lonely ongoing battles with social connection were adding facets.

  • Dissatisfaction along with their appearance has also been a typical theme, represented in around one-third of reactions:

I experienced plenty of self-esteem dilemmas myself ugly and unattractive … The only way I have had relationships has been online and with a false identity… I actually consider.

Another respondent stated:

They stop responding to me if I try to send my real, unedited pictures to anyone that seems nice. It’s a type of escapism, or a means of testing exactly just exactly what life could be like if perhaps you were the exact same individual but more actually appealing.

  • Some reported utilizing identities that are false personas to explore their sex or sex identification. As an example:

I became catfishing ladies on it… I pretend to be a man as I would prefer to be in the male role of a heterosexual relationship than a female in a homosexual relationship because I am attracted to women but have never acted.

  • Above two-thirds of responses talked about a want to escape:

It might appear magical, being able to escape your insecurities … But in the final end, it just worsens them.

  • Many reported emotions of shame and self-loathing around their misleading behavior:

It’s hard to cease the addiction. Truth hit, and I also felt just like a human that is shitty.

A lot more than one-third of individuals indicated a need to confess with their victims, plus some had proceeded relations using them even with coming clean.

Somewhat interestingly, around one fourth of participants stated they started catfishing away from practicality, or as a result of some outside scenario. One stated:

Being too young for a web site or game suggested I needed to lie about my age to individuals, causing creating a complete persona.