Exploring the hook-up app: Low sexual disgust and high sociosexuality predict motivation to use Tinder for casual sex

Article (PDF Available)inPersonality and Individual Differences · January 2017with 2,181 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.053
Abstract
Tinder, also known as the “hook-up app” is the leading online dating application. In this study, we explored the reasons for using Tinder when seeking opportunities for casual sex. We asked whether sexual disgust sensitivity and sociosexuality predict Tinder use with motivation for casual sex. We also tested if gender moderated this relationship. Results of the data collected from 169 Tinder using Amazon Mechanical Turk workers revealed that sexual disgust sensitivity and sociosexuality were predictors of motivation to use Tinder for casual sex. The participants with higher sexual disgust sensitivity reported a lower motivation while the participants with higher sociosexuality reported a higher motivation for casual sex in their Tinder usage. While this model explained the motivation for men, a different model explained women's motivation. Sociosexuality mediated the relationship between sexual disgust sensitivity and the motivation to use Tinder for casual sex for women Tinder users. Results are discussed from an evolutionary perspective.
Exploring the hook-up app: Low sexual disgust and high sociosexuality predict
motivation to use Tinder for casual sex
Barış Sevi ,Tuğçe Aral, Terry Eskenazi
Department of Psychology, Koç University, Turkey
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 2 J anuary 2017
Received in revised form 31 March 2017
Accepted 22 April 2017
Available online xxxx
Tinder, also known as the hook-up appis the leading online dating application. In this study, we explored the
reasons for using Tinderwhen seeking opportunities for casual sex. We asked whether sexual disgust sensitivity
and sociosexuality predict Tinder use with motivation for casual sex. We also tested if gender moderated this re-
lationship. Results of the data collected from 169 Tinder using Amazon Mechanical Turk workers revealed that
sexual disgust sensitivity and sociosexuality were predictors of motivation to use Tinder for casual sex. The par-
ticipants with higher sexual disgust sensitivity reported a lower motivation while the participants with higher
sociosexuality reported a higher motivation for casual sex in their Tinder usage. While this model explained
the motivation for men, a different model explained women's motivation. Sociosexuality mediatedthe relation-
ship between sexual disgust sensitivity and the motivation to use Tinder for casual sex for women Tinder users.
Results are discussed from an evolutionary perspective.
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Tinder
Topic:
Sexual disgust sensitivity
Sociosexuality
Online dating motivation
Mating strategies
1. Introduction
Tinder is a location based online dating application enabling its users
to connect with potential matches. Since its launch in 2012, it has been
growing continuously with 100 million downloads and 10 million daily
users it is the leading dating application (March, Grieve, Marrington, &
Jonason,2017; Orosz, Tóth-Király, Bőthe, & Melher, 2016). Like its coun-
terparts, the promoted motivation for Tinder use is casual sex
(Daneback, Månsson, & Ross, 2007), however Tinder has particularly
gained a reputation in the popular media as the hook-up app(Sales,
2015).
Recently the motivations to use Tinder have been under scientic
scrutiny, and research conrmed hooking-up as one of the motivations
among Tinder users (Carpenter & McEwan, 2016; Gatter & Hodkinson,
2016). To thoroughly investigate the motivations to use Tinder,
Sumter, Vandenbosch, and Ligtenberg (2017) developed a measure
that specied six primary motivations: casual sex,love,ease of communi-
cation,self-worth validation,thrill of excitement,andtrendiness. The study
has also reported gender differences in motivation to use Tinder, where
male users showed a higher motivation for casual sex than female users.
Gender differences in online dating behavior have been reported be-
fore (see Abramova, Baumann, Krasnova, & Buxmann, 2016). It has been
shown that more male respondents than female respondents indicate
that they believed Tinder was to meet sexual partners (Carpenter &
McEwan, 2016). In another study, Tyson, Perta, Haddadi, and Seto
(2016) found that men and women employ different strategies when
using the app, such that, male users, compared to females, were less se-
lective of their potential matches while using the app. These ndings,
that males favor a non-selective approach and exhibit a higher motiva-
tion for casual sex, are in line with the Parental Investment Theory
(Trivers, 1972). Parental investment refers to the investment of time,
energy, and resources a parent devotes to the survival of their offspring.
Parental investment can differ according to the gender of the parent,
which results in differences in sexual selection, and mating strategies
(Schmitt et al., 2003). In humans, females are known to make a consid-
erably higher investment in their offspring than males (Schmitt, 2005).
Women are obligated with the costs of placentation, gestation, and after
birth lactation, while the minimal physiological cost for men is provi-
sion of the sperm(Schmitt et al., 2003).As postulated by the parental in-
vestment theory, because mating is a low-cost activity for males, they
can afford to be non-discriminant in their mate selection (Geary,
1998; Le Boeuf, 1974). This may explain why men tend to be less selec-
tive on online dating platforms.
According to another theory, short term mating is not a strategy
employed exclusively by men. Sexual Strategies Theory (Buss &
Schmitt, 1993) posits that both short-term and long-term relationships
are part of mating strategy repertoires of males and females alike. Al-
though men and women similarly employ both mating strategies,
their motivations in doing so may differ. Men's pursuit of short-term
mates seemsto be motivated by their adaptive desire for sexualvariety
(Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Symons, 1979). For women, on the other hand,
short-term mating may provide the advantage of nding mates with
Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2017) xxxxxx
Corresponding author at: Koç University, Rumelifeneri Yolu, 34450 Sarıyer, İstanbul,
Turkey.
E-mail address: bsevi15@ku.edu.tr (B. Sevi).
PAID-08320; No of Pages 4
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.053
0191-8869/© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/paid
Please cite this article as: Sevi, B., et al., Exploring the hook-up app: Low sexual disgust and high sociosexuality predict motivation to use Tinder
for casual sex, Personality and Individual Differences (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.053
high genetic quality (Fisher, 1958; Pillsworth, Haselton, & Buss, 2004;
Sela, Weekes-Shackelford, Shackelford, & Pham, 2015).
Short term mating inclination can be indexed by sociosexuality,
which refers to an individual's willingness to engage in uncommitted
sexual contact (Penke & Asendorpf, 2008). Thus, people with high
scores on sociosexual orientation are considered to be more likely to en-
gage in unrestricted relationships (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991)in
which they are more likely to engage in sex without establishing close-
ness, commitment, or emotional bonding with a partner, compared to
those with lower sociosexual scores (Simpson & Gangestad, 1992).
Therefore, scoring high on sociosexual orientation is used as an indica-
tor of short term mating (Jonason & Buss, 2012; Jonason, Li, Webster,
& Schmitt, 2009; Provost, Troje, & Quinsey, 2008). Different factors
have been found to affect sociosexuality, such as societal factors like
having divorced parents (Barber, 1998), and individual differences like
personality (Jonason, Teicher, & Schmitt, 2011)andage(Sprecher,
Treger, & Sakaluk, 2013). Various studies have suggested that
sociosexuality also varies with people's disgust sensitivity (e.g.
Al-Shawaf, Lewis, Alley, & Buss, 2015; Tybur, Inbar, Güler, & Molho,
2015).
Disgust is an emotion that plays a role in promoting tness and se-
lection of a mate (Tybur & de Vries, 2013; Phelan & Edlund, 2016).
Three domains of disgust have been described as adaptive responses
to different selection pressures: pathogen, sexual, and moral disgust
(Tybur, Lieberman, & Griskevicius, 2009). Sexual disgust is an evolved
response to prevent mating with biologically suboptimal partners
(Fessler & Navarrete, 2003). Recent studies have investigated the role
of disgust sensitivity in various sexual behaviors, such as mate selection
(Lee, Dubbs, Von Hippel, Brooks, & Zietsch, 2014; Tybur & Gangestad,
2011) and sexual arousal (Borg & de Jong, 2012; de Jong, van
Overveld, & Borg, 2013). Of particular interest, Al-Shawaf, Lewis, and
Buss (2015) have observed a link between disgust and short-term mat-
ing, and showed that reduced levels of sexual disgust are associated
with people's higher tendency for short-term relationships. Here we
ask whether sexual disgust sensitivity can predict people's use of Tinder
for casual sex.
The primary aim of the present study is to investigate whether sex-
ual disgust sensitivity and sociosexuality predict the motivation to use
Tinder for casual sex.
2. Method
2.1. Participants and procedure
A total of 163 Tinder users were recruited via Amazon Mechanical
Turk as participants, for a compensation of 15 cents each (87 female;
age range: 1853 years, mean age = 27.9, SD = 6.5). Only users from
the United States were allowed to participate in the study. The majority
identied themselves as heterosexual (n = 143), while 15 of the re-
maining participants identied as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Five of the
participants did not report any sexual orientation. All participants
were included in our analysis regardless of their sexual orientation.
2.2. Materials
2.2.1. Disgust
We used the Three Domain Disgust Scale to assess the disgust sensi-
tivity of the participants (Tybur et al., 2009). It is a 21-item measure
with three seven-item factors assessing pathogen, sexual, and moral
disgust. Participants rated how disgusting they found each item on a
7-point Likert scale (0 = not disgusting at all, 6 = extremely disgust-
ing). Sample items from sexual disgust factor involves hearing two
stranger having sex, a sample item for pathogen disgust is stepping
on dog poop, and shoplifting a candy bar from a convenience store
for moral disgust. The sub-scales for the three disgust domains are
found highly reliable (Cronbach's alpha for pathogen disgust, 0.79, for
sexual disgust, 0.82, for moral disgust, 0.87.)
2.2.2. Sociosexual orientation
We used the Revised Sociosexual Orientation Inventory to assess
participants' orientation towards unrestricted sociosexual orientation
(SOI-R; Penke & Asendorpf, 2008). The inventory consisted of 9 items
and 3 subscales: Behavior (e.g., with how many different partners
have you had sexual intercourse on one and only one occasion?), Atti-
tude (e.g., sex without love is OK.) and Desire (e.g., how often do you
have sexual arousal with someone with whom you do not have a com-
mitted romantic relationship?). A total sociosexualorientation score is
computed by summing all inventory items. Higher scores specied
higher tendency towards unrestricted sociosexuality while lower scores
indicated more restricted orientation (Cronbach's alpha = 0.71, 0.80,
0.81, and 0.87 for the total score and the facets Behavior, Attitude, and
Desire, respectively).
2.2.3. Tinder usage motivation
We assessed participants' motivation to use Tinder with the mea-
sure of Tinder Motivations developedby Sumter et al. (2017). The mea-
sure is composed of six factors (love,casual sex,ease of communication,
self-worth validation,thrill of excitement and trendiness) with total num-
ber of 46 items. Participants were asked to rate each statement, on a 5-
point Likert (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). The factor thrill
of excitement and trendiness were excluded from the analysis as their re-
liability (Cronbach's alpha = 0.28 and 0.59, respectively) do not satisfy
Kline's criterion for satisfactory reliability (1986). The remaining ve
Tinder usage factors were found reliable (Cronbach's alpha for love =
0.78, casual sex = 0.84, ease of communication = 0.75, self-worth val-
idation = 0.77). All reliability analyses reported above were performed
in line with the original study by Sumter et al. (2017).
3. Results
As shown on Table 1, we performed t-tests to explore the possible
gender differences in sociosexuality, motivationsto use Tinder and dis-
gust sensitivities. We found signicant differences for sociosexuality,
Tinder motivation for casual sex, and sexual disgust sensitivity; men
were higher on motivation to use Tinder for casual sex and
sociosexuality, while they were lower on sexual disgust sensitivity
(see Table 1).
We also calculated the correlations between the three variables. The
results showed that Tinder motivation for casual sex wasnegatively cor-
related with sexual disgust sensitivity (r=0.45, pb0.01), positively
correlated with sociosexuality (r=0
.56,pb0.01). We repeated these
analyses separately for female and male participants (see Table 2).
A multiple regression analysis was performed to test whether the
two variables predicted casual sex motivation for Tinder use. The results
demonstrated that both sexual disgust sensitivity (β=0.227, pb
Table 1
Descriptive statistics and sex differences for measures of Tinder usage motivations, dis-
gust, and sociosexuality.
Male (SD) Female (SD) td
Sociosexuality 5.21 (1.66) 4.04 (1.47) 4.767* 0.75
Tinder motivation
Casual sex 3.08 (1.05) 2.15 (1.05) 5.671 * 0.89
Love 3.51 (0.74) 3.65 (0.78) 1.121 0.18
Ease of communication 3.29 (0.80) 3.21 (0.89) 0.587 0.09
Self-worth validation 3.20 (0.88) 3.30 (0.98) 0.581 0.09
Trendiness 3.31 (0.64) 3.25 (0.86) 0.484 0.08
Disgust
Sexual 1.52 (1.13) 2.61 (1.28) 5.709* 0.90
Pathogen 3.51 (1.10) 3.80 (1.13) 1.588 0.24
Moral 3.50 (1.28) 3.57 (1.50) 0.481 0.08
Note. Asterisks indicate signicant differences between gender (*pb0.001).
2B. Sevi et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2017) xxxxxx
Please cite this article as: Sevi, B., et al., Exploring the hook-up app: Low sexual disgust and high sociosexuality predict motivation to use Tinder
for casual sex, Personality and Individual Differences (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.053
0.001, sr
2
=0.20) and sociosexuality (β= 0.449, pb0.001, sr
2
=
0.39), independently predicted sex motivation for Tinder use (adjusted
R
2
= 0.35, F(2162) = 43.944, pb0.001).
We performed a second multiple regression analysis to investigate
whether both predictors follow a similar path for females and males
by splitting the data by gender. This analysis produced a signicant
model for male users as sexual disgust (β=0.29, pb0.05) and
sociosexuality predicting (β=0.40,pb0.001) Tinder use for casual
sex (adjusted R
2
=0.30,F(2, 75) = 17.463, pb0.001; Fig. 1).
For females the analysis produced another model. When entered to-
gether in the analysis, sexual disgust no longer had a signicant effect (p
N0.05). Therefore, we conducted a mediation analysis for females using
the PROCESS macro in SPSS (Model 4, with a bootstrap approach of
5000 drawings; Hayes, 2013;Fig. 2). Results indicated that sexual dis-
gust sensitivity was a signicant predictor of sociosexuality, (β=
0.53, SE =0.11,pb0.001), and sociosexuality was a signicant pre-
dictor of Tinder use for casual sex,(β=0.32,SE = 0.08, pb0.001). Sex-
ual disgust was no longer a signicant predictor of Tinder use for casual
sex among females after controlling for the mediator, sociosexuality, (β
=0.05, SE = 0.09, ns). Approximately 35% of the variance in Tinder
use for casual sex was accounted for by sexual disgust sensitivity and
sociosexuality (R
2
=0.354,F(2160) = 43.9444, pb0.001).
4. Discussion
The aim of this study was toexplore the link between sociosexuality
and sexual disgust sensitivity as predictors of casual sex motivation for
Tinder use.Even though previous research on theTinder application in-
vestigated individual differences, and motivations for Tinder use, to our
knowledge no empirical study has previously investigated the mecha-
nisms behind casual sex motivation of Tinder users. Our ndings dem-
onstrated that sexual disgust sensitivity and sociosexuality predicted
Tinder users' motivation for casual sex. The participants with higher
sexual disgust sensitivity reported less motivation for casual sex in
their Tinder use, while the participants with higher sociosexuality re-
ported a higher motivation to use Tinder for casual sex.
Previously, many studies demonstrated gender difference in individ-
uals' sexual strategies (Petersen & Hyde, 2010). In order to test whether
our model ofTinder use motivation for casual sex differed based on gen-
der, we also performed our analyses separately for men and women.
While sexual disgust sensitivity and sociosexuality directly predicted
motivation to use Tinder for casual sex in men,while sociosexuality me-
diated this relationship between sexual disgust sensitivity and motiva-
tion to use Tinder for casual sex in women. This difference may be due
to gender differences observed in risk taking behavior.
Casual sex offers immediate interpersonal contact and leaves people
vulnerable to risks such as getting sexually transmitted diseases, un-
wanted pregnancy, and mating with genetically incompatible mates.
Sexual disgust is an evolvedresponse providinga safeguard against sex-
ual risks. In general, men are more inclined to take risks than women
(Byrnes, Miller, & Schafer, 1999). Of particular interest, Baker and
Maner (2008) observed risk taking behavior as part of male mating
strategies. In their experiment, they reported a positive relationship be-
tween risk-taking behavior and motivation to pursue sexual relation-
ships in men who were exposed to images of attractive mates, but not
in those who were exposed to images of unattractive mates, nor in
women. This could explain the gender difference we found in our sam-
ple, since Tinder users present themselves with their chosen photo-
graphs, which are usually their most attractive (MacKee, 2016).
Regardless of their sexual disgust sensitivity men could thus be more
motivated towards casual sex overall. In case of women, given that
women generally are not high risk takers, and also, as argued by the Pa-
rental Investment Theory, they have a greater obligation to invest in
their offspring, only those who are low on disgust sensitivity may
favor casual sex, and therefore choose to be on Tinder. This might
have constrained our sample to women who have low sexual disgust
sensitivity, which could potentially explain why sexual disgust sensitiv-
ity did not predict Tinder use motivation for casual sex in women when
controlling for sociosexuality.
This study makes use of three self report measures, although these
measures have frequently been used in the eld (e.g. Al Shawaf et al.,
2015) and their reliabilities have repeatedly been conrmed, psycho-
metrically speaking gender has shown to be a factor which can bias
the use of scales (Lange, Irwin, & Houran, 2000; Lange, Thalbourne,
Houran, & Storm, 2000). This may potentially have inuenced our re-
sults. To our knowledge, no previous study has looked for potential gen-
der biases on these scales. For future studies psychometric examination
of these scales would be benecial for the scientic community to bias-
free results.
Caution is needed when suggesting causality with a mediation anal-
ysis based on cross sectional data. Apart from a few exceptions (cf. Al-
Shawaf et al., 2015) sexual disgust has been accepted as an evolved pre-
caution for adaptive problems regarding sexual behavior (Tybur,
Lieberman, Kurzban, & DeScioli, 2013), and thus can indeed predict
short-term mating preferences. As for the relationship between short
term mating and Tinder use motivation for casual sex, to our knowl-
edge, this study is the rst to report such a directional link. It is plausible
to consider individuals' shortterm matinginclinations as a predictor for
Tinder use motivation for casual sex. Further experimental research is
needed to substantiate this causal link between variables in our model.
On the whole, our results show that evolutionary mating theories
have explanatory power in today's online dating environment, which
we nd nontrivial. Future studies should further elucidate the applica-
bility of evolutionary theories to mating behaviors in increasingly devel-
oping technologies and changing dating cultures of the 21st century.
Table 2
Correlation between variables for males and females.
12
Male
1. Casual sex motivation
2. Sexual disgust 0.43⁎⁎
3. SOI-R 0.50⁎⁎
0.37⁎⁎
Female
1. Casual sex motivation
2. Sexual disgust 0.27
3. SOI-R 0.48⁎⁎
0.45⁎⁎
pb0.05.
⁎⁎ pb0.01.
Fig. 1. Sexual disgust and sociosexuality on casual sex motivation to use Tinder for males
*pb0.01.
Fig. 2. Mediation model for the effect of sexual disgust on casual sex motivation to use
Tinder for females *pb0.01.
3B. Sevi et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2017) xxxxxx
Please cite this article as: Sevi, B., et al., Exploring the hook-up app: Low sexual disgust and high sociosexuality predict motivation to use Tinder
for casual sex, Personality and Individual Differences (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.053
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Please cite this article as: Sevi, B., et al., Exploring the hook-up app: Low sexual disgust and high sociosexuality predict motivation to use Tinder
for casual sex, Personality and Individual Differences (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.053
  • ... As such, a person's sociosexuality should be a particularly good predictor of PBMDA use, as this provides an alternative arena for dating and short-term sexual encounters (Asendorpf, Penke, & Back, 2011). Sevi, Aral, and Eskenazi (2017) reported the only evidence that indirectly supports this claim in a recent M-Turk study of 163 Tinder users. They found that socio- sexuality strongly predicted Tinder use motivation, and that socio- sexuality fully accounted for the inhibiting effect of disgust on moti- vation to use. ...
    ... Further, we expect that unrestricted sociosexuality predicts being more comfortable picking up a stranger, seeking short-term mates (hooking up, casual sex) rather than long-term mates (i.e., committed relationship), and rating themselves high on short-term mate value. In predicting PBMDA use, we expect that sociosexuality accounts for the effect of the other short-term oriented indicators (Moran et al., 2018;Penke & Asendorpf, 2008;Sevi et al., 2017). ...
    ... It would seem that new technology use is driven by a stable sexual psychology; including sex differences and sexual conflicts in human mating (Buss, 2017). Importantly, our finding on predictors of actual PBMDA use strongly support Sevi et al. (2017) who reported increase in motivation for Tinder use among sociosexually unrestricted participants. Additionally, this is in line with recent, preliminary findings ( Kuhle et al., 2016), that report traditional patterns and sex differences in how people present themselves on Tinder, mirroring how people used to present and pro- mote themselves in newspaper personal ads. ...
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  • ... The second research stream focuses on who uses mobile dating apps. Sociosexuality-defined as the extent to which someone has a restricted or unrestricted orientation toward sexual activitywas found to be a strong predictor for using dating apps for casual sex ( Carpenter & McEwan, 2016;Sevi, Aral, & Eskenazi, 2017). Sociability and impulsivity are also significantly related to using dating apps ( Carpenter & McEwan, 2016). ...
    ... In addition, answering calls for future research to examine a more holistic set of variables as antecedents of mobile dating app ( Ranzini & Lutz, 2017), this study also examines influences of sensation seeking, loneliness, and privacy concerns to test the wellfounded recreation and compensation hypotheses regarding online activity motives. Moreover, previous studies mainly examined one app platform, Tinder ( Hobbs et al., 2017;Sevi et al., 2017;Timmermans & De Caluwé, 2017a, 2017b). To our knowledge, little research has explored this phenomenon on a different technology platform. ...
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  • ... Of particular interest is the apparent tendency for people to prefer to interact with other people that resemble them in some way. Current research on Tinder includes ethnographic investigations of its users and quantitative analyses of gross user behavior and the implications that has for understanding human mating behavior (Albury 2017;Sevi et al. 2017;Sumter et al. 2017;Tyson et al. 2016;Carpenter & McEwan 2016;Ligtenberg 2015); research has also been undertaken that delves more broadly into attraction and the way human behavior is altered by being projected into a digital space, as well as how other features that are now considered characteristic of the internet (such as anonymity) have altered the way humans interact in digital spaces ( Albury et al. 2017;Blackwell & Birnholtz 2014;Daniels 2012;Ellison, Hancock & Toma 2012;Gibbs, Ellison & Heino 2006). ...
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  • ... This is not the first study to investigate sociosexual orientations and technology use. Specifically, recent research speculates that unrest- ricted individuals tend to be more motivated to use Tinder to gain casual sex from strangers (Sevi, Aral, & Eskenazi, 2017). This research ex- amining sociosexuality and Tinder use, and the findings from the cur- rent study further validate the SOI and illustrate how another app's use is affected by sociosexuality. ...
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