Tinder, a dating app many love to hate as they swipe left and right, may be doing more harm than good for some users. A University of North Texas (UNT) study found that users have lower levels of satisfaction about their faces and bodies than people who do not use the app. Even more surprising, researchers found this behavior was more likely to occur in men than women.
“When it came to self-esteem, men had significantly lower self-esteem if they were Tinder users,” said Jessica Strubel, an assistant professor in UNT’s Department of Merchandising and Digital Retailing. “When you think of the negative consequences, you usually think of women, but men are just as susceptible.”
Researchers surveyed 1,044 female and 273 male UNT students to examine the app’s effect on psychosocial well-being. Tinder matches users with potential dates by swiping right to “like” a person’s profile photo or swiping left to “pass.” Swiping left and right ranks attractiveness above other traits like sense of humor, kindness, and attentiveness to others. Over time, this intense focus on physical characteristics can damage psychological well-being.
“We thought females would be the most strongly, and adversely, affected particularly given the extent to which women adopt societal beauty ideals,” said Trent Petrie, an assistant professor in UNT’s psychology department. “The fact that male and female Tinder users reported similar levels of psychological distress was surprising.”
Researchers were not able to draw a direct correlation between Tinder and self esteem from just one study. It’s possible that users may already have lower self esteem before they start using the app.
Tinder has more than 50 million users around the world. It has changed the way many people look for potential mates. This study was the first to examine the psychology behind the app. Hopefully, more studies will be conducted to better understand the science of dating apps such as this.