The Kinsey Institute and the School of Informatics and Computing have joined together to create a mobile app, now available for Apple and Android mobile platforms, for collecting and reporting anonymous data regarding sexual activity, public displays of affection, female hormonal birth control use and effects, sexual fetishes, flirting and other intimate behaviors.
The Kinsey Reporter app was developed in September 2012, but researchers from IU’s School of Informatics and Computing and the Kinsey Institute delayed announcing it to the public until the University had fully reviewed the project for any potential legal issues.
“The Kinsey Institute has worked for decades on the analysis of data about sexual behavior, which is of course very sensitive,” said Filippo Menczer, director of IU’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and a School of Informatics and Computing professor. “But they have traditionally dealt with relatively small samples of subjects, so we had the idea of working together to build a platform that would give us some interesting challenges in terms of figuring out how to collect this data and how to preserve it and make it useful. And it would also give the Kinsey Institute a chance to collect data at a global scale that they have never been able to do before.”
After the app has been downloaded and terms of service accepted, the app invites users to become “citizen scientists” by contributing to sex research.
“It gives us another way of collecting information about what’s going on in people’s lives,” Jennifer Bass, Communications Director at the Kinsey Institute, said. “You know what’s happening in your own personal life, what you see in your community and around you. It’s just a different way of collecting information.”
The app contains a “Report” option, which actually allows users to contribute to the sex research by submitting their observations regarding sexual activity or intimate behaviors.
A “Map” option allows users to select red pins in any area around the world, which then takes them to a menu offering tags such as “consensual,” “disappointment,” “married” and “vagina fetish.” After selecting one of these tags, the app takes users to a variety of graphs, charts and other visual data surrounding information gleaned from that particular area in regard to the tag selected.
Many more options are available on the app, including sharing information via Twitter and Facebook.
“Not everyone can be involved in sex research, but almost everyone who has use of the mobile phone — and there are many, many people around the world who do — can participate,” Bass said.
A Kinsey Reporter website, a Twitter feed and a Facebook page have also accompanied Wednesday’s app re-release.
“It’s a dynamic app, there will be changes,” Bass said. “There will be new surveys that are added as the researchers hone in on those questions, so we expect it to change for sure and we hope we can reach out to parts of the world and parts of our community that may have something to contribute to sex research.”