Falsifiability, Being Wrong, and the Null Hypothesis

A research project my partner and I will be doing seeks to explore the differences in popularity between different types of users on social dating websites. What effect does race, body type, and Eurocentric attractiveness have on a number of contacts? Our testable hypothesis is that profiles that conform to traditional beauty standards will attract more attention. A null hypothesis will be if profiles with non-Eurocentric standard of beauty receive more attention. We can discover the relationship between the phenomena by counting the amount of social contact each fake profile receives.

“When British media needed to pore through tens of thousands of pages of Parliamentarians’ expense reports, they “crowd-sourced” it, engaging thousands of people rather than relying on a handful of experts. It turns out that, with a big enough population engaged, sufficient width can be its own type of depth.”

-Weinberger, Too Big to Know

We plan on utilizing the same type of crowdsourcing technique in our project. While we certainly don’t expect anyone responding to be an expert on the trends of dating sites, we expect that the multitude of different responses will show the intentions of the masses. The types of responses we are looking for are general interest or disinterest. The content of the message isn’t the data, rather the amount of messages is our data. This is to preserve the integrity of our research information, because there are few ways to assign a weighted value to the content of a message.

“Online dating is popular. 40% of singles, with the number growing, use online dating sites. A 2007 survey reported 1 in 7 Americans knew a relatively stable couple who had met online. At least in urban centers it is now the norm. In fact, when someone in my practice is single and they don’t at least try a site or two I begin to think they may be expressing some ambivalence”

-Todd Essig Ph.D, From Screen to Fantasy and Back, Psychology Today

Our society is saturated with online services. From Google to Facebook to Wikipedia, we are highly dependent on connected, socially driven information platforms. We instantly can access databases of knowledge, whether it is about events, news or people. So it only makes sense that our personal lives can be aided by similar services, such as online dating. We are always striving to optimize our experience, and in a busy world it makes sense to make connections at the new speed.

In the end, our goal is to study the intentions and desires of an online dating site user. Whether it is overt or subconscious, the user will lean towards what they are looking for.

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