Experimental Work

Norton, Frost, and Ariely (2004) have begun to conduct experiments with online dating scenarios to determine how users perceive others in these environments. Studies like theirs are important for establishing rigorously the psychology at work when users evaluate and communicate with potential partners online. Post hoc analyses such as the present work, and indeed any natualistic observation, have the advantage of context, but they lack the rigor of laboratory experiments with controlled conditions.

Frost, Ariely, Donath, and I have proposed a study to examine the effects of photographs. As Walther et al. (2001) show, photographs play a powerful role in establishing social presence. We want to explore how different photos of the same person with the same profile affect how others perceive them. To accomplish this, we propose shooting photos of the same subject with different settings and styles, and then posting online personal ads with each of the photos. We would compare the quantity and variety of messages each ad attracts. Additionally, we would bring subjects into the laboratory to evaluate the photos in terms of attractiveness and message.

Social Dating

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