Research Interests

I am interested in intersections of technology, romantic relationships and cultural identity.  My dissertation follows young Jewish adults as they search for a romantic partner using online and offline strategies; my goal is to understand how the use of mobile dating apps intersects with broader aspects of young adulthood, including uncertainty, autonomy and developing identity.  I argue that online dating must be viewed in conjunction to other aspects of day to day life, such as going to work, hanging out with friends and going to places of worship.

My past projects have covered a range of topics: Self-presentation in online dating and its connection to religious identity, international students’ use of Instagram as a tool to adjust to a new country, the collective gender portrayals on Pinterest, workplace ideologies on Linkedin.com, how romantic partners utilize Instagram to co-construct a relational identity, the role of body image in online communities, and so on.

I tend to take on several projects at a time, each with a different take on online dating, young adulthood, and identity.   I have previously worked on a study that explored the self-presentation strategies of mobile dating application users (on apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Jswipe). I interviewed 32 users about the opportunities and constraints for appearing desirable to a potential romantic partner.  Findings showed that emerging adults were more comfortable tolerating uncertainty about prospective partners. Younger respondents were not as bothered by the lack of information on the apps because it allowed them to present themselves in a more natural and casual manner.  They learned about dating from their peers, using them as a valuable resource of feedback for choosing prospective partners and navigating a new relationship.  I have also focused on the role of uncertainty specifically by interviewing online daters (ages 18-26) about the strategies they use to understand whether other mobile daters are “legitimate.”  Findings showed that users attempted to find commonality (such as going to a similar college), initial gut feelings as well as multiple “checks” on the apps and other forms of social media.

SRM

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