The significance of this project reaches beyond just the activities of online dating. The behaviors that we examine here reveal deeper understandings of how we perceive others. We don’t expect the information we collect to change the behaviors in online dating, since people are driven by their preferences, and even if they understand racial bias, it will still affect their choices. Instead, we hope to highlight the way that first impressions and racial preferences affect people of all races in everyday life.
Racism is deep rooted in the minds of everyone, we naturally judge others on first sight, to see if they are a threat, if they are friendly, helpful, and intelligent, or if they are dangerous, untrustworthy and short sighted. We make these snap judgements based on comparing what we see to our preconceptions about the groups of people that we’ve experienced in our lives. We rely on these observations especially in the preference heavy environment of online dating. It is purely a place to judge people based off of a quick impression.
When we boil down social interaction to raw statistical data, we can observe trends that unveil biases towards many groups of people. What separates racism from preference is how we choose to act with that knowledge. A true racist weaves an image of other groups that is simply an excuse for their ignorance and inability to understand other viewpoints. We all have the capability to put in the effort to understand one another, but many choose to switch off their minds and retreat into a simple scenario.
One problem that’s been address to my group member and I is the differentiation between preference and racism. This has been brought up a number of times based on feedbacks in class. We know that a preference is when one favors a certain alternative over the other, but what classifies racism? And how might we present this within our data? The dictionary definition states that racism is “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” We believe that if race alone is enough to make a person dismiss someone and invalidate all qualities that they may have, then what we’ll find within our data runs far deeper than just general preference. We plan to use keywords and crowdsourcing to our advantage. We will be getting our data from the source through a series of questions pertaining race, love and attraction.