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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Sociologists: What kind of questions would you ask about online dating?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (2527 points ) October 13th, 2011

Hi Jellies,

I’m doing a research project on the social construction of online dating and how it relates to a consumer culture for a sociology class.

I specifically want to explore how people who date online relate to a culture of instant gratification, convenience, “McDonalidzation” etc.

If I decide to make a survey, what kind of questions should I ask to help extract usable data? Keep in mind that I have to be ethical and of course, can’t “prompt” people to answer a certain way using subversive tactics…

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8 Answers

jsc3791's avatar

This is a little over my head, but

As someone who has used a variety of online dating sites, I’d love to help with your survey.

Can you give an example of the questions you are trying to form?

What about the basic: “Why do you choose to use online dating as opposed to traditional methods of meeting people?”

Bellatrix's avatar

Are you looking at carrying out a quantitative or qualitative study? How do you plan to analyse your data? Are you going to use software for instance?

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zenvelo's avatar

How many email exchanges do you have before meeting face to face?

How many emails do you respond to?

How do you respond to “winks” or other indications of interest?

How many meetings have resulted in a second date?

How many meetings before you had sex?

How truthful is your profile?

How truthful were the profiles of people you met?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What class are you doing it for, in sociology? Is it an Intro to Sociology class or a specific class dealing with social construction or consumerism? That would help me direct you better. I’d also like to know how long your project is and whether you’re just making online dating as an example of the need for instant gratification in our culture. I suppose that would be your first step. You write about theories of instant gratification, you posit that the increase in online dating parallels the need for instant gratification to an extent (that’s all you can say since other factors are involved like the general dependancy on technology, the connectedness/socializing through social networks/internet, etc.). You can then write about whether it connects necessarily to consumerism but that is a link that is much weaker, in my opinion. You can theorize that to the extent that online dating is aligned with our need for instant gratification, it is also aligned with increased consumerim and that it’s possibly that people online are expected to provide a ‘pay-off’ faster and easier, or something like that.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Most websites that are used for online dating are sorted by a pay field meaning; sites are used by a supposed “better class of clientele” based on how pricey they are *Weeds out the “less desirable members” from the herd. So the people who can afford these sites are usually assumed more socially credible, lucritive and productive “better” members of society so the assumption is that they are not looking for a hook-up, but a “meaningful” long term relationship. According to elitist snob sites like E-Harmony where most people don’t even make it to membership because they fail the screening process and they are therefore referred to their sister site Match.com (lesser quality dating Inc) LOL

Free dating sites are successful, but not on a match basis, most people who opt to use free dating services are usually, statistically only there to “hook up” with some off point chance of possibly meeting a life partner.

That being said my questions would be on these topics, and would go as follows:

1. Income range (“range” because nobody wants to disclose their net worth on a dating site)
2. Intentions of use. (Why are you here, what are you looking for?)
3. Partner interests. (qualities you are looking for in a partner.)
4. hobbies, activities, leisure enjoyment. (Music, art, blah blah)
5. Family interests. (Do you like your family, is family important, do you want a family)
6. Values and morals. (Religion, spirituality, beliefs, mantra… whatever structured your morality)

*I initially read the question and assumed at a quick glance that you said Scientologist. That’s how these questions would have gone if you had said Scientologist…. LOL

1. Do you have a brief case large enough to carry your EMF meter?
2. Are you opposed to brainwashing?
3. Do you like the Gap?
4. How do you get in touch with your inner alien lizard person?
5. How do you feel about Tom Cruise?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@jsc3791 That assumes that people who use online dating are using it in lieu of meeting people through traditional channels, instead of in conjunction with meeting people through traditional channels.

Kardamom's avatar

Like some of the others have stated, you need to know exactly what info you are trying to get, and then word the questions in such a way so as not to inflict bias, and you need to make the tests as anonymous as possible, and you need to have a reliable method in which to evaluate the answers in a non- biased fashion. I’ll just throw out a few possibilities based on what some of the Fluthers have talked about on this site. Someone else, who has a better understanding of scientific surveys should edit the way the questions are written to weed out bias and leading questions.

Do you now, or did you ever use traditional dating (not online dating sites) methods such as being fixed up by friends or relatives, meeting people at social gatherings (such as bars, parties, concerts, weddings, family gatherings, sports activities, singles mixers etc.) or by meeting people at school, work or a place of worship?

If Yes to above question, do you use a mix of traditional dating methods in addition to online dating sites?

Do you find one or the other, traditional dating methods (TDM) or online dating sites (ODS) to be easier to use? If so, in what ways?

Do you have any other non-traditional dating methods to meet potential dates? If so, can you describe them?

What do you expect to achieve from ODS? Are those expectations the same or different than your expectations from TDM?

What are some of the features that you like about ODS? (Maybe provide a few examples and offer a choice of other. Some examples: anonymity, lots of choices for potential dates, speed, convenience, ability to narrow down choices easily, ability to present yourself in such a way as to attract like minded potential mates, ability to use the site at any time 24 hours a day, other?

What other features (not mentioned) do you like about ODS?

What are some of the negative features that you do not like about ODS? (Maybe give some examples, as well as a choice of other, just like for the positive features question)?

Are the positive features regarding ODS similar to the positive features regarding TDM? If the positive features regarding ODS are different, can you describe what they are and/or how they are different?

Are the negative features regarding ODS similar to the negative features regarding TDM? If the negative features regarding ODS are different can you describe what they are and/or how they are different.

What are your goals regarding ODS? (You could give some examles and have an other option) Some examples: Meeting people, regardless of whether or not the couple ends up dating, meeting people specifically to date, meeting people to date and potentially enter into a long term relationship (dating or marriage), to find sexual partners regardless of whether the couple ends up dating or enters into a relationship, to meet and date a lot of different types of people, to meet and date a very specific type of person, to meet escorts rather than dates (for busy or shy professional people who want/need a companion/partner to attend functions with rather than for dating or romantic purposes) Other.

If you chose Other in the above question, can you describe your goals regarding ODS?

When you sign up for an ODS, do you request a certain type of person (such as race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language preferences, body type, weight, body measurements, interests, whether or not they are “financially secure” or have a job, or whether they own their own home, or whether they live within a certain distance from your own residence, whether they’re looking for friendship or dates or potential marriage partners, other)? Or do you set up a more general search for people?

If you chose other, in the above question, can you describe what other types of people you might list on your preferences?

Can you rank by order of importance which characteristics are most important to you with regards to your preferences for the types of people that you are seeking to meet? Then give a long list similar to the “types of people” question from above, or simply let the survey taker list in order of ranking 1 to 100 or whatever number you think is feasible, one being most important, 100 being least important.

In your experience with ODS, have you found that the people who were selected for you, with regards to your stated preferences have been accurate most of the time, accurate some of the time, or not very accurate at all.?

In your opinion, do you think most of your dating experiences that came from ODS were mostly positive, some positive and some negative, or mostly negative?

If you chose mostly positive in the above question, is that why you do continue, or did continue to use the ODS?

If you chose mostly negative from the previous question, why do you, or why did you continue to use the ODS? Maybe give some examples such as: figured my odds of a positive experience would increase if I continued using the service, didn’t want to go back to TDM, the negatives of ODS were still better than my experiences with TDM, don’t have enough time for other dating methods, don’t think I’ve given ODs enough time to suceed yet, too shy or busy to use other dating methods traditional or otherwise, I had to pay for this service and I want to get my money’s worth, there is a guarantee of satisfaction that came with my membership for this ODS, other people have had great success with ODS, other.

If you selected other in the above question, can you describe what other reasons you would cite for continuing to use ODS, when most of your dating experiences with ODS has been negative?

Has most of your TDM dating experiences been mostly positive, some positive and some negative, mostly negative?

Have you stopped using TDM? If so why?

Compared to TDM, has your ODS dating experiences been similarly positive, positive in somewhat different ways (please describe), postive in very different ways (please describe), or compared to TDM has your ODS dating experience been similarly negative, somewhat more negative (please describe) or a lot more negative (please describe)

How do you personally feel about ODS? Give examples: I love it and think that it’s a good use of modern technology, or I like some aspects of it, but sometimes I feel like it’s not “natural,” or I like it, but I wish it gave me better prospects, or I like it and it’s very convenient, but sometimes it feels impersonal, or I have mixed feelings about it (please describe) or I feel completely nuetral about it, or I don’t really like it, but I need the anonymity of it, or I don’t really like it, but I need the convenience of it, or I don’t really like it, but I appreciate the number of people that I can potentially connect with as opposed to TDM, or I don’t really like it, but I’m too shy or busy to use other methods, or I don’t really like it, but I’m running out of options, or I don’t really like it, but my friends and/or relatives have used it very sucessfully, or I don’t really like it, but I have no experience and/or I have had no success with TDM, or other (please describe)

Then get all of the general info from the respondent (but all of this should be anonymous, even the surveyors and the analyzers should not even see the people taking the tests).

Not sure how to word this, but you need to find out how many dates or friendships or long term relationships or marriages or whatever have come out of these ODS experiences? Then compare those rates to their TDM experiences.

Do the survey takers have any ideas for what they would like to see in ODS that isn’t already being done? Or ways that would make things easier or simpler or more helpful to their dating experiences in the long run?

Do the survey takers have any things they would like to tell us about what kinds of things on ODS don’t work very well (give specific examples and reasons for why certain methods and/or requirements don’t work very well) for the particular survey taker?

Age?
Sex? (biology)
Gender? (how do they see themselves)
Gay?
Straight?
Bisexual?
Transgender (male to female, female to male)?
Ask them if they would be willing to give their city, state or country, where they are currently located?
Would they be willing to give the names of the actual ODS they have used?
Political position (could give examples of political parties, or have terms such as liberal, conservative etc)?
Income bracket?
Marital status?
Does the survey taker have any children? If so how many? Ages, any living with the survey taker?
How computer literate are you (give examples such as computer phobic, generally competent, expert)?
Do you like using computers (not at all, in some circumstances give examples, love them and use them all the time mostly for fun, love them and use them all the time both for fun and for work and for academics, love them and can build them and manipulate them in an expert fashion)?
How often to you spend on the computer with regards to ODS?
How would you describe your personality type?
Are you generally competent with reading and writing in English (assuming they’re using an English language ODS)? If not, how do you compensate (please describe)?
Do you ever use ODS that are not English language sites? If so, is it because you speak/write another language? If so, what language(s) are those. If you do not speak another language, how do you compensate (please describe) on non-English ODS sites?
Can you tell us, without giving your identity, what your profile says? Is your profile mostly true and accurate, somewhat accurate, mostly untrue, completely untrue? If you have some parts of your profile that are not true and accurate, can you explain why you use those false identifiers/claims/statements/credentials/descriptions?
Do you use a current (age wise) photo of yourself?
Do you use a photo that is not you? If so, why?
Do you use more than one ODS?
Do you use a particular ODS that is geared toward your faith or your sexual orientation or your interest in particular activities? Of do you utilize more general ODS?
Have you even been reprimanded/modded/expelled from an ODS? If so, can you explain the circumstances?
Have you ever been discriminated against by an ODS? Can you explain the cirucumstances?
Have you ever taken any action against an ODS? What was the result?
Has anyone ever told you that ODS are bad/not useful/unhelpful/not secure/potentially damaging/not likely to have real profile information? If so, why do you think the person(s) told you that? Their own experiences? Jealousy or Anger toward you? Jealousy or Anger toward a former date/spouse/partner? Mistrust of anything online in general? Not having a lot of computer experience? Other (please describe)?

OK that’s about all I can think of for now. I hope this helps. : )

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