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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Kinsey researcher advises Match.com, studies relationships

When he’s not teaching gender studies at IU, or conducting research at the Kinsey Institute, Justin Garcia makes a living tying the knot between science and love.

The scientific adviser for the online dating website Match.com, Garcia’s academic journey has led him to research all things human intimacy: behavioral biology, romantic love, intimate relationships, uncommitted sex and the hook-up culture in emerging adulthood.

Early on, Garcia said he wasn’t interested in human sexuality and sexual behaviors.

But in the midst of his academic career, Garcia said he “sort of stumbled into the field of asking questions about social and sexual monogamy in human behavior.”

After completing his postdoctoral research at the IU’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, Garcia became an assistant professor and a
research scientist.

As the scientific adviser for Match.com, Garcia is a co-investigator for a study entitled “Singles in America,” which received national media attention from the Huffington Post and USA Today.

“Match.com is interested in understanding singles and they wanted to get a comprehensible study of who U.S. singles are,” Garcia said. “The study focuses mostly on the attitudes and behaviors of singles around issues of dating, romance and sexuality.”

The findings of the fourth annual Singles in America study are on its website,
SinglesinAmerica.com.

The study contains statistics on categories such as the “Do’s and Don’ts on Dating Etiquette,” “Sex and Singles” and “Love and Money.”

Garcia lauded “Singles in America” as being the most ambitious study to understand who American singles are.

“Every year we collect information from over 5,000 U.S. singles,” Garcia said. “We get high to low socioeconomic groups, every race and ethnicity and sexual orientation,” he said. “We really try to get a representative sample based on what the U.S. Census tell us is the distribution of those demographics.”

As an assistant research scientist at the Kinsey Institute, Garcia said he focuses primarily on issues of romantic and sexual relationships across the life cycle.

But more specifically, a lot of his work focuses on emerging adulthood — those ages 18 to 25.

“I’ve written quite a bit about hook up culture on college campuses,” Garcia said.
“One of the issues is the dating culture and courtship have changed from youth in America today,” Garcia said in regards to the high percentage of college students engaging in hook up behavior — or casual sex.

Garcia said he is also interested in each of the sexes’ motives behind dating.
“There’s this perception that men want to run around and have casual sex and women want love and babies. That’s totally bogus,” Garcia said.

Garcia said it’s important for him to remember to separate real life from research.
“We have to be cautious about applying statistics and data, and the way that we apply it, because our lives are more complex then we’ll ever understand in one single study,” he said. “It moves us away from focusing on the science, the data, the scholarship and the expertise.”

Garcia’s lab at the Kinsey Institute is collaborating with the IU Dean of Students Office on a study about sexual assault on college campuses.

“That’s a really exciting project because we’re taking all of this exciting research and knowledge and we have the challenge of applying it to improve the safety,” Garcia said, “experiences and pleasure that men and women can experience while they’re in college around issues of sexuality and gender.”

Garcia said he believes people who conduct research have an obligation to share their research.

“Those of us who specialize in these issues have an obligation to get the real data and the real facts to the public,” he said.

Follow reporter Javonte Anderson on Twitter
 @JavonteA.

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