It is maybe maybe not about money: we asked catfish why they fool people online

It is maybe maybe not about money: we asked catfish why they fool people online


Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The University of Queensland

Disclosure statement

Eric Vanman doesn’t work for, consult, very own shares in or get capital from any business or organization that will take advantage of this informative article, and has now disclosed no appropriate affiliations beyond their scholastic visit.


University of Queensland provides capital as a known user for the discussion AU.

The Conversation 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 makes use of information that is false develop a persona online that will not express their real identity. This commonly involves making use of taken or modified pictures, frequently obtained from an unwitting alternative party.

Catfish will make use of this information to create an even more version that is appealing of, then take part in continued private interactions with another individual chatave (or individuals) that are unacquainted with the deception.

Falling victim to catfish

When you look at the 2010 documentary, Nev Schulman learns that a female with who he’s got developed a relationship that is online nine months is clearly fake. Another married girl (whom initially advertised to be her mother) has utilized photos from the model’s account to produce the complicated, phoney relationship.

There were a few high-profile instances of catfishing reported in the news since that time.

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

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

Then there’s the popular MTV truth docuseries, hosted by catfish target Nev Schulman himself. It’s presently in its 7th period of “taking online romances in to the genuine world”.

A problem that is complicated

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

Its web site provides step-by-step data of reported relationship fraudulence in Australia, yet there is certainly small information available about social catfishing – deception in the lack of financial fraudulence. Additionally there are questions regarding the legality of impersonating a person who will not exist.

Until these problems are settled, there isn’t any avenue that is clear pursue for victims of social catfish. Victims may remain unacquainted with the deception for months or years – another explanation catfishing usually goes unreported – making it even harder to quantify.

The character characteristics of catfish scammers

As smartphones and linked products become a lot more pervasive, the likelihood of dropping victim to deception are increasing along side our display time.

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

We’ve started mental research to investigate this concern. Within the previous 12 months we have actually recruited 27 folks from all over the world who self-identified as catfish for online interviews.

The interviews concentrated primarily on the motivations and feelings about their catfishing behavior. A number of our findings that are key:

  • Loneliness had been mentioned by 41% regarding the participants due to the fact good cause for their catfishing. One respondent stated:

I simply wished to be much more popular and then make buddies that may communicate with me personally, some an element of the time.

Other people stated that the lonely youth and ongoing battles with social connection had been adding facets.

  • Dissatisfaction with regards to looks had been additionally a typical theme, represented in around one-third of reactions:

I experienced a lot of self-esteem issues 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:

If I you will need to deliver my genuine, unedited images to anyone who appears good, they stop answering me personally. It’s a kind of escapism, or a means of testing exactly just just what life will be like if perhaps you were the exact same individual but more actually appealing.

  • Some reported making use of false identities or personas to explore their sexuality 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.

  • Significantly more than two-thirds of reactions talked about a want to escape:

It might appear magical, to be 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 avoid the addiction. Truth hit, and I also felt just like a shitty individual.

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

Notably interestingly, around one fourth of participants said they started catfishing away from practicality, or due to some outside scenario. One stated:

Being too young for an online site or game designed I had to lie about my age to individuals, leading to developing a persona that is complete.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *