By Megan Y. Tan ’19
With at least 10 million active users a day, Tinder is one of the most popular dating apps. It is easy to set up, by connecting it to Facebook, and easy to use, by just swiping left when presented with an undesirable profile, and swiping right when presented with a desirable profile. Although it is such a popular app, not a single empirical study has been conducted to investigate the motivations behind the usage of Tinder.
Professor Sindy R. Sufer and her team of researchers studied the motivations behind the usage of Tinder and the relationship between motivation and age. Two graduate students networked an online survey which had 163 participants aged between 18-30 years old, 83 of the participants were male and 80 were female, with 59 current Tinder users and 104 former Tinder users. Demographic information, frequency of use of Tinder, and reasons for using Tinder were asked and data was recorded. The reasons were grouped into six categories of motivations including love, self-worth validation, casual sex, ease of communication, thrill of excitement, and trendiness.
Contrary to the popular notion that Tinder is a meaningless sexual hookup app, Professor Sufer found that the leading motivation behind the use of Tinder is correlated between excitement and trendiness. The next three motivations in decreasing order are love, casual sex, and ease of communication. Male users used Tinder for casual sex more than female users, and the motivation to use Tinder for love and casual sex increased with age. However, the leading motivation factor of excitement has no correlation with age. This suggests that most Tinder users use it simply because it is in style or part of the trending culture.
Tinder is more than just a sexual hookup app. However, due to the small sample size, conclusive evidence cannot be drawn. Further research should be done with a bigger sample size and a scale that is cross-validated with an independent sample. As the online dating scene becomes more diverse, more research can also explore the motivations behind the use of other dating apps. The relationship between online use of Tinder and offline outcomes such as meeting for a date can also be examined.
- S. Sumter, L. Vandenbosch, L. Ligtenberg, Love me tinder: untangling emerging adults’ motivations for using the dating application tinder. Telematics and Informatics 34, 67-78 (2017). doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2016.04.009.
- Image retrieved from: https://safeinwarwickshire.com/2017/02/13/online-dating-fraudsters-using-letter-templates/
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The new Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted details someone who uses Tinder and how that can be problematic for seeking real relationships.