Not Just a Preference: Reducing Biased Decision-Making on Dating Websites

Zilin Ma and Krzysztof Z. Gajos



As dating websites are becoming an essential part of how people meet intimate and romantic partners, it is vital to design these systems to be resistant to, or at least do not amplify, bias and discrimination. Instead, the results of our online experiment with a simulated dating website, demonstrate that popular dating website design choices, such as the user of the swipe interface (swiping in one direction to indicate a like and in the other direction to express a dislike) and match scores, resulted in people racially biases choices even when they explicitly claimed not to have considered race in their decision-making. This bias was significantly reduced when the order of information presentation was reversed such that people first saw substantive profile information related to their explicitly-stated preferences before seeing the profile name and photo. These results indicate that currently-popular design choices amplify people’s implicit biases in their choices of potential romantic partners, but the effects of the implicit biases can be reduced by carefully redesigning the dating website interfaces.

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Citation Information

Zilin Ma and Krzysztof Z. Gajos. Not just a preference: Reducing biased decision-making on dating websites. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI '22, New York, NY, USA, 2022. Association for Computing Machinery.