ADdicted to Love

Along with the multi-billion dollar business of online dating apps comes big audiences—and a big market for advertising.

“There’s been a lot of research on online dating and its potential—can you find love, why are people using these apps, et cetera,” says Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Aditi Paul, PhD. “But no research has looked at it through ‘what kind of advertising messages are these apps generating?’ We’re looking at the intersection of online dating and advertising.”

For her latest project, Paul has enlisted Karolina Zaluski ’21 to examine messaging on popular dating websites and apps across countries and continents.

“The first thing we want to do is have a clear database,” says Paul. “All these countries, all these messages—we’re coding these. For example, how many apps and websites are directed at the general population versus how many are directed at the LGBTQA community? What motivations are these advertising messages appealing to?”

Ultimately, Paul and Zaluski seek to uncover how a country’s cultural indices affect the type of appeals used in advertising messages on dating sites, and to what extent men and women are shown in gender stereotypical ways in these advertisements.

An international student from Poland, Zaluski is impressed by the prospect of publishing innovative research.

“In Europe, it is not as typical to do research when you are an undergraduate. We don’t have this kind of opportunity,” Zaluski says. “So for me, it’s very important to examine the correlation between culture and the needs of people.”