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The effect of implicit (vs explicit) rejection on the behavioral intentions of online daters

George Alba (School of Administration, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil) (Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio Grande do Sul, Feliz, Brazil)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 11 February 2021

Issue publication date: 30 August 2021




Online dating facilitates both dater interactions and rejections. Given the vast offer of potential mates and daters' limited time, several rejections may occur. On online dating platforms, most of these rejections are simply the absence of a reply (ignoring). The purpose of this paper is to compare the impact of implicit rejection (ignoring) vs explicit rejection (declining) on the behavioral intentions of daters, considering self-esteem as a moderator.


Experiment 1 investigated the effect of the extent of rejection (implicit vs explicit vs control) on the behavioral intentions of online daters. Experiment 2 assessed observers' recommended actions to a male (vs female) online dater following rejection (implicit vs explicit vs control).


Implicit rejections generate greater behavioral intentions than explicit rejections. Both daters (study 1) and observers of the dating scenario (study 2) indicated greater intent to revise their profiles (study 1) or recommend a profile revision (study 2) when implicitly (vs explicitly) rejected by interaction partners. Self-esteem moderated the effect of the extent of rejection. Higher levels of self-esteem eliminate and lower levels of self-esteem intensify the effect of the extent of rejection on behavioral intentions. Additionally, observers' recommendations based on the extent of rejection depend on the rejected dater's gender.


Ignoring is a frequent practice among dating platform users, and this paper provides an original contribution to better understand the differences stemming from implicit or explicit rejection of online daters.

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This research was supported by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES - Brazil) under grant 012908/2013-04. The author thanks Caglar Irmak for his helpful comments and support throughout this research. The author is also thankful to Eduardo B. Andrade and Marcus Cunha Jr. for their suggestions.


Alba, G. (2021), "The effect of implicit (vs explicit) rejection on the behavioral intentions of online daters", Online Information Review, Vol. 45 No. 5, pp. 930-945.



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