Out of 100,000 randomly selected new users, researchers gave 50,000 free access to the anonymous browsing feature for a month, which allowed them to view profiles of other users without leaving telltale digital traces.
The researchers expected the anonymity feature to lower social inhibitions—and it did.
“The offline ‘flirting’ equivalents, at best, would be a suggestive look or a preening bodily gesture such as a hair toss to one side or an over-the-shoulder glance, each subject to myriad interpretations and possible misinterpretations contingent on the perceptiveness of the players involved.
Much less ambiguity exists in the online environment if the focal user views another user’s profile and leaves a visible train in his ‘Recent Visitors’ list.” “Men send four times the number of messages that women do,” says co-author Akhmed Umyarov, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
Surprisingly, however, users who browsed anonymously also wound up with fewer matches (defined as a sequence of at least three messages exchanged between users) than their non-anonymous counterparts.