Online accessibility has made multi-tasking the default for many people that feel as if no activity could keep them from simultaneously accessing their tablet or phone. But those behaviors can erode relationships and reputations. A recent experiment tested the ease with which a person could engage in cheating behaviors with the help of the Internet.
Conducted by Recovery.org, a site dedicated to helping individuals overcome addiction, the experiment sought to understand the nature of cheating online and how online cheaters are perceived by those using dating sites.
The study set up 40 fake profiles on OKCupid. The author first had to convince friends to allow for the use of a picture to create the fake profiles on the site. Then, using the five cities named as the “most unfaithful cities in the U.S.” by the cheating website AshleyMadison.com, the author set up the profiles in each city.
The author set up the profiles, dividing each set into various categories:
- “Brazen Cheaters,” with both a male and a female profile, had descriptions that clearly indicated that the profile was set up to seek a relationship while already married or in a committed dating relationship.
- “Married Maybes” were less aggressive in seeking to cheat, but they indicated in a subtle way that they were in a relationship but might be up for something new. The Married Maybes were those that might appear to be on the verge of a separation or divorce.
- Those that were “Recently Taken” had profiles that indicated that they were now in a relationship, but had not completely taken their profiles off the site.
- “Sincerely Singles” were profiles that were set up for straightforward, non-cheating relationships. The author used this group as a control set of profiles.
The author wanted to find out how the responses to the profiles would differ for men and women, and among the different types of profiles. The analysis showed that the Brazen Cheater males received far fewer messages than the Brazen females. In addition, the Brazen men received more messages than the other three types of male profiles combined.
However, the author was also concerned with the types of messages that each profile received. For instance, while the number of Brazen Cheater messages for males far outstripped the other profiles, there were a large number of negative and insulting messages that were sent to the Brazen Cheaters. Many of the messages sought to determine whether the contents of the profile, which openly stated that the user was looking for an affair, were really true.
Among women the Brazen Cheaters received more messages than the Married Maybes and Recently Takens combined.
Across the board, men received only 10 percent of all messages – the vast majority of all messaging was to the female profiles. The author believes that there may be a simple explanation. The main reason men visit these sites seems to be to seek out partners for sex, so they may not be as discriminating in their assessment of fidelity-related topics when researching profiles on the site.