Infidelity and the Internet: The Geography of Ashley Madison Usership in the United States

Infidelity and the Internet: The Geography of Ashley Madison Usership in the United States

Geographical Review Early View

Michael L. Chohane and Kimberly A. Panozzo

American Geographical Society: What is the main purpose of your study?

Kimberly A. Panozzo: The purpose of our study is to measure the effect of theoretical and empirically-supported characteristics of sexually-compulsive individuals and those engaging in infidelity as market determinants of Ashley Madison usership.

American Geographical Society: What are the practical, day to day implications of your study?

Kimberly A. Panozzo: Our research demonstrates the utility of quantitatively analyzing and characterizing market determinants for a product or service as a means to produce insights that can be purposed for targeted marketing and sales efforts. The data-set used for our research is evidence that publicly-available stolen data can be used responsibility and as a means to study topics where data are difficult to obtain or problematic to collect.

American Geographical Society: How does your study relate to other work on the subject?

Kimberly A. Panozzo: This study builds upon and tests the findings of many individual-level studies on infidelity and the elements of a well-known theory of online sexual compulsiveness.

American Geographical Society: What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?

Kimberly A. Panozzo: Per-capita income was by far the most significant market characteristic positively related to Ashley Madison usership.

Religiosity remains a protective force against infidelity at the individual and aggregate level, and most individual-level characteristics of those engaging in infidelity positively also related to Ashley Madison usership at an aggregate, geographic level—suggesting they are robust, generalizable characterizations.

The Villages, Florida was a significant outlier, suggesting the MSA’s specifically-engineered social environment provides ample opportunity for extramarital or polyamorous relationships. 

American Geographical Society: What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?

Kimberly A. Panozzo: Our use of publicly-availably stolen data may inspire other geographers to view future data breaches as opportunities to research difficult-to-measure human behavior, which may have never been studies from a spatial perspective.

American Geographical Society: How does your research help us think about Geography?

Kimberly A. Panozzo: Our research demonstrates Geography is willing to take risks (i.e., [responsibly] using publicly-available stolen data) to uncover knowledge and potential actionable insights about topics that would be otherwise difficult to study.

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