Laura Thompson is researching gender and problematic behaviour on dating websites.

Published (Updated )

PhD student Laura Thompson has discussed her research into communication on dating websites in an article published by national newspaper The Independent.

The feature explores the issue of why some people choose to send graphic images to other website users without consent.

Laura, who is in her second year at City in the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, originally wrote the article for The Conversation, before it was republished by The Independent.

Her research looks at how different genders interact on dating websites and how this links to offensive or insulting behaviour.

She said: “People who use online dating can experience hostile, rude or even sexist behaviour from other users, such as unwanted, sexually aggressive messages, unsolicited nude images, and sexualised threats or insults.

“My research explores how these experiences might be gendered. Specifically, I am exploring how gender is performed in online dating interactions and how this relates to problematic behaviour.”

Using a constructionist methodology which focuses on language, Laura is investigating how certain topics are talked about and how people talk about and position themselves in interactions.

The first part of her study uses screenshots of online dating messages that have been shared over social media and the second part involves interviews with men and women about their experiences with online dating and encounters with troubling user behaviour.

The researcher, who is also a teaching assistant on the Sociology BSc at City, explained why it was becoming increasingly important to investigate the subject.

She said: “Online incivility and misogyny is a growing area of concern for researchers, public commentators and policy makers and a problem for the online dating industry. But despite the public interest and concern, there is very little research on this issue and why it occurs over online dating.

“Research such as this is needed to uncover continuing social issues and inequalities and how they manifest in a digital era.”

The Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism is the first major interdisciplinary centre in the UK to focus on research and education in the disciplines of law, justice and journalism.

The centre brings together expertise from across City – in The City Law School, the Department of Sociology and the Department of Journalism.

Read Laura’s article in The Independent or the original piece on The Conversation

Image: GaudiLab /