Researching Online Data Platforms

At the end of 2019 the Network Institute’s Tech Labs started collaborating with Giulia Ranzini (Communication Science). The experiment was carried out thanks to the Idea Generator grant. Our goal was to understand which of the (few) elements on dating profiles are more likely to lead to selection, or rejection. In order to do this, the Tech Labs created Finder, a completely realistic online dating platform, where respondents were exposed to 110 profiles, and asked to click heart (accept) or cross (reject). Profiles were randomized to feature pictures of different ethnicities and different levels of attractiveness, display different degrees of education and either a Dutch-sounding or a non-Dutch sounding name. The app allowed us to explore actual behavior on a dating platform, which nicely complements many studies based on self-reported scores.

The initial application was planned to be a tablet application that could be carried around and bring the experiment to the participants. Unfortunately the Corona pandemic made that idea no longer feasible and we had to rethink the way to collect the data. We decided to reprogram the application (using Unity Pro) to run on an web server so participants could access the experiment from any location with an active Internet connection. At the end the application was embedded in a Qualtrics online survey and data was stored on the Tech Labs web server.

Currently the data is being analyzed.

Sample image of the Finder application.