Kinsey Institute enlists the help of mobile citizen sex researchers

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Scientific investigations into human sexuality have always been a hazy topic of research. The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University at Bloomington has been leading research for decades, but since its main source of study participants is college students, the results are hardly representative of the general experience. In an effort to remedy that bias, the Kinsey Institute has developed a mobile app aimed at collecting anonymous data about sexual experiences from a wider population.

However, it hasn't been smooth sailing to get the app, called the Kinsey Reporter, into the hands and phones of citizen sex researchers. Indiana University pulled the app temporarily in order to reassess its privacy settings. It was a blow to the project, which had been seeing increased amounts of data submitted. Once the university clears the app, it will be available once again for download on iPhone and Android devices.

An article in Slate noted that even once the app returns to the market, it still will not give a totally unskewed, unbiased view of sexuality. It will still only have submissions from people with the money to buy smartphones and who are interested in sharing their exploits, even anonymously. And the privacy issues may in fact make it difficult to glean any definite scientific insights from the data. There's no way to account for quality control or accuracy of the submissions, which is essential for drawing conclusions.

Despite the roadblocks, the Kinsey Reporter does show a creative approach of attempting to crowdsource data. It will be a challenge for the scientific community to hone its methods of getting accurate information from a broad sample size by mobile technology, but it does hold lots of potential for new research projects.

[Image credit: Brent Payne]

This article was written by Anna Washenko and originally appeared on Tecca

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