Courtship Initiation Behaviour in Online Personals

  •  Kesumawati Bakar    


A personal advertisement has two aims; to promote its author and to attract potential love interest. In addition to providing textual information about physical appearance, occupation and interests, accompanying images in personal ads create meanings that are instrumental in building imaginary relations between the advertiser and the readers. This paper explores the notions of body language and interpersonal attitude and courtship initiation behaviour in online personal ads. Using Kress & van Leeuwen’s Grammar of Visual Design (2006) and Mehrabian’s dominant and affiliative dimensions (1981) this study examines how interpersonal relations are represented through the embodiment of affiliative and non-affiliative attitudes in images. Analysis of 581 images reveals several common visual personas through specific clusters of bodily stance and facial articulation that are instrumental in creating and establishing represented affiliation between the participants in the images and the viewers. As such this study is a contribution to scholars working in the area of visual analysis, identity and social semiotics as it identifies non-verbal realizations of affiliative and non-affiliative attitudes and demonstrates their interaction through a corpus-based analysis of personal ad images.

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