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" Hobley says the site made changes over the years to encourage users to focus less on potential mates' demographics and appearance and more on what she calls "psychographics." "Psychographics are things like what you're interested in, what moves you, what your passions are," Hobley says.She also points to a recent study by international researchers that found that a rise in interracial marriages in the U. over the past 20 years has coincided with the rise of online dating.

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In 2014, user data on Ok Cupid showed that most men on the site rated black women as less attractive than women of other races and ethnicities.

That resonated with Ari Curtis, 28, and inspired her blog, Least Desirable. "It really hurt my self-esteem." Jason is earning his doctorate with a goal of helping people with mental health needs.

"I had said something, like, really obnoxious, looking back on it now," he says with a laugh.

"I think one of the first lines I said was like, 'social justice warriors to the front of the line please.' " He says weeding through the racist messages he received as a result was hard, but worth it.

"[When it comes to attraction,] familiarity is a really big piece," Hobley says.

"So people tend to be often attracted to the people that they are familiar with.

"I feel like there is room, honestly, to say, 'I have a preference for somebody who looks like this.' And if that person happens to be of a certain race, it's hard to blame somebody for that," Curtis says.

"But on the other hand, you have to wonder: If racism weren't so ingrained in our culture, would they have those preferences?

"If dating apps can actually play a role in groups and people getting together [who] otherwise might not, that's really, really exciting," Hobley says.

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