Quick: What’s the capital of Alabama?
Well that’s a simple question and answer, so let’s try something a little more ambiguous: How do most single Alabamians living in Montgomery describe themselves online?
No, this isn’t a trick question, and it does indeed have an answer: According to millions of online dating profiles, singles in Montgomery are more likely to refer to themselves as “conservative” than people in other areas of the U.S.
(More on TIME.com: See how to get a virtual girlfriend)
Surprising revelation? Maybe not. But this is the premise behind artist, composer and performer R. Luke DuBois’s new research project, “A More Perfect Union“, which seeks to discover area-specific linguistic patterns used within more than 19 million online dating profiles.
In 2010, while the government was busy collecting census data on every individual living in the country, DuBois was conducting his own “singles census” by creating visual representations of online dating profile language helmed from 21 dating sites, divided by gender and sorted by zip code.
The result? Color-coded maps that not only compare which states use more of one specific word — for example, no one in Wyoming uses “naughty” in their profiles, while many women in Colorado do — but also traced road atlas maps that swap city names with more than 20,000 unique words that were used by a higher percentage of people in that area.
(More on TIME.com: See the best online dating sites)
So if you’re looking for a Republican, Montgomery might be your cup of tea, while Democrats are more likely to find their political love match in Santa Cruz, California, where more online singles use the word “liberal.”
But with all this new information on how people describe themselves online, does any of it actually help people find true love? That’s yet to be seen, but as DuBois points out in the video above, all the research in the world can’t change one fact: that most dating profiles are 50 percent fact (who you want to be with) and 50 percent fiction (who you really are). (via Turnstyle)
(More on TIME.com: See one year’s worth of dating advice)
Video and images of “A More Perfect Union” are courtesy of bitforms gallery in New York City.