These Personality Types Are More Likely To Fall For A Catfish

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Washington Post, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
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If you've ever gone through the experience of looking for romantic partners on a dating app, you've probably encountered profiles that just screamed catfish—aka a fake profile, robot, or other type of scam. But research suggests some personality types are more likely than others to fall for a catfish.

Catfishing, aka online romantic fraud, is still alive and well these days. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, online romance scams reported to the FBI tripled between 2012 and 2016, and the Better Business Bureau reports that Americans have reported losses of nearly $1 billion due to romance scams. One company that screens profiles for dating companies told the BBB that 500,000 of the 3.5 million profiles it scans every month are fake.

People at risk of getting catfished.

In a new review published last month in the Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health journal, researchers culled the scientific literature to identify common trends in the types of people who tend to fall for catfishes. They found and analyzed 12 relevant studies. From these, they found that 63% of social media users report having been a victim of catfishing at least once.

These were the personality types most likely to fall for a catfish: 

  1. Romantics (aka people who tend to idealize romantic relationships and romance in general) 
  2. People high in neuroticism (aka anxious people or those who deal with a lot of negative feelings in general)
  3. Sensation-seeking people
  4. Impulsive people
  5. People with addictive personalities
  6. People with codependent tendencies

Women and middle-aged people were also generally more likely to fall for catfishes than people of other genders and ages. 

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What to do about it.

The personality traits listed above all have something in common: They're vulnerable to getting swept up in an exciting new romance easily.

"The scammer always acts empathetically and attempts to create the impression in the victim that the two are perfectly synced in their shared view of life," the researchers write in the paper on their findings. "The declarations of the scammer become increasingly affectionate and...a declaration of love is made within two weeks from initial contact."

So if you fall into any of the above categories, it doesn't hurt to make sure you take budding relationships slowly—and not just to avoid getting catfished! Rushing into relationships too quickly can generally be a recipe for disaster, exposing you to the risk of becoming emotionally dependent, getting attached to emotionally unavailable people, and other common relationship troubles.

In her book Love Skills, marriage therapist Linda Carroll, LMFT, recommends all people in the earlier honeymoon stage of their relationship avoid trusting only their heart.

"Beware of the fantasy of permanent bliss that this stage wraps you up in," she writes. "That spectacular spike in feel-good neurochemicals can overpower common sense. … Take time to step back and observe your emotions and behaviors; ask yourself whether they're objectively rational. Ask a trusted friend for a candid opinion about your relationship. Awareness is key."

Oh, and definitely don't send money to a person you met online that you've never met in person before. Good rule of thumb!

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