Study: Tinder Use Linked to Negative Psychological Effects

Young adults texting and talking on smartphonesTinder users may feel less satisfied with their bodies and appearance, and male Tinder users tend to have lower self-esteem than non-Tinder users, according to a study presented at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association.

Tinder, a dating app that allows users to quickly review dozens of profiles (a finger swipe to the right indicates interest and a swipe to the left is a definitive sign of rejection), has been criticized for promoting a superficial dating culture. An article in magazine Vanity Fair blamed Tinder for bringing about a “dating apocalypse” and for treating dating as a never-ending competition. Some critics worry that Tinder—which has about 50 million active users worldwide—creates a constant quest to find the “best” date, treating people as commodities rather than looking for deeper connections or relationships.

How Tinder Affects Mental Health

The study looked at 1,044 women and 273 men, most of whom were undergraduate students. Participants completed questionnaires about their body image, mental health, perceived objectification, and demographic factors.

About 10% of participants said they were Tinder users. This group reported lower overall satisfaction with their bodies and appearance. Specifically, Tinder users were more likely to embrace societal expectations of beauty, to compare their appearance to others, to draw information about attractiveness from the media, and to experience body image issues.

Male Tinder users also reported lower self-esteem than non-Tinder users. Because the study involved more women than men, the study’s authors say more research is necessary to determine whether this correlation holds. Previous research has mostly focused on women’s self-esteem and body image, but this study suggests men may experience these issues as much as women do.

Does Tinder Cause Self-Esteem Problems?

The study does not prove that Tinder causes self-esteem problems, though it does establish a correlation. Its authors suggest the app may make users feel disposable and hyper-aware of appearance issues, but they recognize the possibility that people who already have low self-esteem may be more likely to use Tinder. Because the study also found that Tinder users pay more attention to messages from media about body image, the authors also say it is possible the other way around: people who take body image and self-esteem cues from media may also be more likely to use Tinder.

References:

  1. Sales, N. J. (2015, September). Tinder and the dawn of the dating apocalypse. Retrieved from http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/08/tinder-hook-up-culture-end-of-dating
  2. Tinder: Swiping self-esteem? (2016, August 4). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/08/tinder-self-esteem.aspx

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  • 2 comments
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  • Blakely

    August 16th, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    Good grief social media is tearing all of us down.

  • Andrew

    August 16th, 2016 at 3:35 PM

    If something is making you feel that bad about yourself then why on earth would you continue to take part in it? I don’t think that that is supposed to be the point of any of these sites and yet this is all we hear, about the negativity that they continually bring into our lives.
    Why do we keep it up? Gluttons for punishment?

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