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Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 179–199 | Cite as

Full disclosure: experimental analysis of female online dating on parole

  • Douglas N. EvansEmail author
Article

Abstract

Objectives

Research has considered the effect of convictions on employment and housing outcomes, but there are limited studies exploring how criminal justice contact affects the initiation of relationships. This study uses an experimental design to explore how people react to criminal stigma in the context of online dating.

Methods

Female online dating profiles were created using pre-rated, open access photographs of women that varied in race (Black, White, Latino). These three profiles comprised the control condition. The experimental condition consisted of the same exact three profiles with one exception: a brief mention of their being on parole in written profile bios. The three profiles attempted to match with 6000 online daters each in the control and experimental conditions across 18 online dating platforms (N = 36,000).

Results

Findings indicate that the Black and Latina profiles matched significantly less frequently when disclosing parole. In the parole disclosure condition, White female profiles received significantly more matches than Black and Latino profiles, and White females disclosing parole matched at a higher rate than White females not disclosing parole.

Conclusions

The stigma of a criminal record is damaging for Blacks and Latinas who disclose parole in online dating bios, but for White females, disclosure of parole does not hinder and may even help their online dating match success. The stigma of being minority appears to compound criminal stigma in online dating. This has crucial implications for the relationships of formerly incarcerated because prosocial romantic relationships reduce recidivism.

Keywords

Criminal stigma Experimental design Online dating Parole disclosure Women Relationships 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the research team members—Lifa Choo, Hydeia Deshields, Nicole Diminno, Ijanea Fedrik, Kristineiry Hernandez, Kimberly Jones, Michael Kerrigan, Anthony LaRosa, Richard Luna, Yashira Marquez, Mabel Mendez, Milton Ortiz, Richard Pena, Cheradyn Petit, Katiria Reyes, Amarfis Rodriguez, Tamara Solomon, and Samuel Acheampong for their contributions to this project. This study would not have been possible without their diligent efforts. I dedicate this study in loving memory to Dr. Devah Pager, whose work inspired the study design and whose kindness and helpful feedback to a stranger attested to grace and generosity. You will be missed but your legacy will live on through your work and all the lives you touched.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal Justice, Political Science, and International StudiesFairleigh Dickinson UniversityTeaneckUSA
  2. 2.Research and Evaluation CenterJohn Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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