The Invisible Contours of Online Dating Communities: A Social Network Perspective

By Felmlee, Diane H.; Kreager, Derek A. | Journal of Social Structure, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

The Invisible Contours of Online Dating Communities: A Social Network Perspective


Felmlee, Diane H., Kreager, Derek A., Journal of Social Structure


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Online dating is an increasingly popular context for meeting romantic partners. In a recent survey, Rosenfeld and Thomas (2012) found that the internet is quickly displacing traditional relationship venues, including family, school, neighborhood, workplace, and friends. According to a national study (Cacioppo et al. 2013), approximately one-third of respondents married between 2005 and 2012 met on-line, and perhaps surprisingly, these marriages tended to be at least as satisfying and stable as those formed offline. Online dating's rapid climb and apparent success is even more remarkable given the generally negative label it held less than two decades ago (Anderson 2005; Wildermuth and Vogl-Bauer 2007). Today, online dating is a multi-billion dollar industry with a myriad of increasingly sophisticated technological tools, ranging from online sites with complex matching algorithms to geographically synced mobile device applications that search and filter potential matches in real time.

With the floodgates open, social scientists are scrambling to understand online dating's peculiarities and to use dating site data to investigate individual partner preferences. Studies of the latter investigate traces of online daters' actual choices (e.g., examine which dater profiles are viewed and contacted) to provide concrete evidence of partner preferences. Research in this vein documents strong homophilous preferences, whereby daters seek out partners similar to themselves on many important socio-demographic characteristics, including shared race, educational status, physical attractiveness, perceived popularity, and age (Anderson et al. 2014; Hitsch, Hortacsu, and Ariely 2010a; 2010b; Lewis 2013; Lin and Lundquist 2013; Skopek et al. 2010; Taylor, Fiore, Mendelsohn, and Cheshire 2011). These studies are noteworthy because they provide a basis for observed broader patterns of homogamy and rising rates of between-couple socioeconomic inequality (McLanahan 2004).

Nevertheless, internet dating research tends to focus on micro-level interactions, often between pairs, with little attention paid to "meso-level" patterns that emerge among participants. The interdependence of online daters' actions may create systemic outcomes that are inconsistent with observed micro-level patterns (Coleman 1990). Here, we argue that the aggregation of daters' online activities creates a network unobservable to the daters themselves, which shapes dating opportunities and helps to explain observed macro-level patterns.

Note, too, that scholars repeatedly call for greater attention to the broader social environment of dating and mating (e.g., Berscheid 1999; Felmlee and Sprecher 2000) to offset the traditional concentration of existing research on individual and demographic characteristics. To the extent that the social context of romantic and marital relationships receives attention, the focus tends to be largely on the influence of networks of friends and family members (e.g., Agnew, Loving and Drigotas 2001; Felmlee 2001; Sinclair, Felmlee, Sprecher, and Wright 2015). Here, in one of the first studies of its kind, we extend the investigation of romantic context to explore the network of interactions connecting potential dating partners themselves.

In this research, we use network theory and methods to illuminate the invisible network of online daters within a single city and the network's component clusters, where clusters consist of sets of individuals who tend to interact with similar potential partners. We then use multivariate analyses to examine which sociodemographic attributes most account for inclusion in particular network communities. Based on prior microlevel studies of partner preferences, we expect that characteristics, such as race, education, attractiveness, and age will differentiate membership in the various network clusters. However, an alternative hypothesis is that the aggregation of individual choices will result in clusters dominated by one or two dater qualities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Invisible Contours of Online Dating Communities: A Social Network Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.