Social impact of online dating platforms. A case study on tinder

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Dating apps are increasingly used by a global population. Platforms' design supports diverse motivations of use, but specific options incentivize some behaviors more than others. Also, users' expectations of intimacy are driven by a commercial technological product primarily designed for profit. The emotional investment of users is considerable if we are to ponder the vast and complicated realm of love and dating. This paper discusses the social impact of digital dating platforms with a case study of Tinder app, through an analysis of its business model and designed user incentives. Using the frictionless design of digital apps, dating apps and especially Tinder contribute to the standardization and even McDonaldization of romance, in which fast love and intimacy are pursued and consumed in an accelerated fashion, redefining socially expected scenarios for relationships.

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... Furthermore, according to Stoicescu (2020), online dating apps feature the ability to find a partner and broaden the horizons of intimacy, leading to new motivational and coordinated actions with repercussions on a social and psychological level. Albury et al. (2019) reported that user experiences discrimination and harassment when using online dating apps. ...
... Moreover, young adults appear to spend more time on social media and online dating apps. Their interaction is shallow and controlled by their unwillingness to be alone as a result of their high level of reliance on technology (Stoicescu, 2020). Pesce (2019) mentioned that when loneliness is combined with social anxiety, it will result in the overuse of dating apps and life consequences for an individual, leading to addiction to online dating apps. ...
... The physical restriction imposed by the regulations meant that alternative approaches toward engagement with others were utilized. Some app users accessed sex tech [74] in order to conduct alternative ways of engagement-'I would facetime people-sometimes they just wanted to engage in some sort of sexual activities on camera though' [P6]. While some virtual engagements were not positive, other respondents had a different outcome. ...
... There is an increasingly strong scholarly interest in dating apps and their usage. However, it is mainly focused on the changes made within apps at the start of the pandemic [72] or taking an exploration through a student lens [73] or the incentives and business model of Tinder [74]. Although the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has provided information for older users interested in using dating apps or dating websites [75], there still remains a gap in the literature and in the field of gerontology surrounding dating apps, and sex tech use by adults in mid-and later life. ...
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Existing research surrounding dating apps has primarily focused on younger people with few studies exploring usage of such apps by middle aged and older adults. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic challenged social behaviours and forced people to adapt intimacy and wider relationship conduct. The objective of this study was to examine how older adults utilized dating apps during the lockdowns of the UK pandemic (December 2020-May 2021). Findings presented here focus on qualitative data collected from an online survey and eight online, one-to-one interviews with adults aged 40-54 years. The online survey targeted adults across the UK while interviewees were located across England. Employing interpretative phenomenological analysis, findings identified three key themes: 1. Morality, health, and law breaking and COVID-19; 2. Self-surveillance and moral signalling; 3. Loneliness and social isolation. Qualitative findings show engaging with apps was a proxy which alleviated feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Some users used the premise of their social bubble as a way of meeting other people. Using the same premise, others justified breaking the law to engage in physical and sexual intimacy to mitigate their loneliness. The work presented here contributes to the fields of social sciences, gerontology, and human computer interaction. The inter-and multidisciplinary impact of this study intersects across those fields and offers a cross-sectional insight into behaviours and engagement with technology during one of the most extraordinary global events.
... He argues that the algorithms employed by dating apps cultivate particular feelings and moods (such as anxiety) and links this with the platform's business model where "social relations are as likely to be sold as things, especially when they vanish as quickly as they appear -like ghosts" (Narr, 2021). This point is supported by Stoicescu (2020), who argues that users' expectations of intimacy "are driven by a commercial technological product primarily designed for profit," which redefines the expected scenarios for forming new relationships. It is argued that it is the socio-structures developed by designers that have brought with them changes in dating practices (such as fast, but uncommitted interactions). ...
... It is argued that it is the socio-structures developed by designers that have brought with them changes in dating practices (such as fast, but uncommitted interactions). Thereby apps such as Tinder affect the emotional wellbeing of especially young adults, who are prone to using digital tools for communication and social interaction (Stoicescu, 2020). ...
... Tinder app was launched in 2012 and its popularity has increased ever since. Its simple design has attracted many users and delivered the ground for new practices that have resulted in a significant social impact [37]. In addition, privacy, cybersecurity, and safety risks have grown considerably due to tensions fueled by high levels of popularity, usability, and profitability. ...
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Dating apps have become increasingly popular, even more so in the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Users rely on the anticipated results and perceived usefulness of dating apps, sometimes for extended periods of time. To create successful products, designers of dating apps aim to create socio-technical structures that are attractive, easily usable, and profitable, thus raising challenges for security and privacy. The design of an app shapes users' experience and cultivates the ground for new practices. Tinder is one of the dating apps that has stirred controversy around its gamified design, and around the technical flaws that impact privacy and security. In this case study, we rely on participative observation and secondary analysis of scientific and journalistic investigations to systematize the implications brought by Tinder's design, to highlight and to classify the types of documented privacy, security, and personal safety risks for dating app users.
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Mobile online dating is currently a widespread and important phenomenon in many peoples’ daily lives. Digital applications like Tinder enable users to get in contact with numerous possible partners quickly and with minimal effort often basing their decision on pictures. Research related to mobile online dating so far has focused mostly on users’ specific traits or on their motives to use such applications. But which role does mobile online dating play in peoples’ lives? What does it mean to them? Which desires, emotions and expectations are involved? How does the use of the application influence peoples’ daily activities and how do they relate to this impact? To answer these questions, we (a) reconstructed the architecture of Tinder to understand the characteristics of its functions for the way it is used and the respective consequences, (b) replicated the Tinder Motives Scale (Timmermans & De Caluwe, Comput. Hum. Behav., 70, S. 341–350, 2017)—extended by social and demographic variables and (c) analyzed qualitative interviews with Tinder users about their experiences, their usage and its impact on emotions, thoughts and behaviour. In this article, we show the complexity of mobile online dating beyond presumptions and stereotypes and reveal its inherent economic logic (Weigel, 2018) and acceleration dynamics (Rosa, 2013). Furthermore, we reference people’s narrations and rationalizations to a specific discourse of the self which shapes subjects’ private concept of the self in a particular—liberal and economic—logic (Gergen, 1991, Rose, 1989) and reflect on the subjects’ scopes for action and meaning making.
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People develop their identities and self-knowledge through constant presentation of self in situations of everyday interaction. In this paper we study strategies of learning about self and society through participation in the online dating platform Tinder, and in digital communities dedicated to collective reflection on this experience. Through an exploratory research based on observation and on content analysis on several online platforms, we identify stages of learning on a social trajectory from novice to methodical and to expert participant, and we illustrate how learning about one's self involves at the same time learning about others and the medium of interaction in which presentation and validation take place. As Erving Goffman demonstrated, the presentation of self in everyday life is a highly organized activity in which people pursue others' validation. Invalidation can be painful and humiliating, possibly leading to degradation of one's status and to specific coping mechanisms. The increasing frequency of self-presentation in digitally mediated situations introduces novel processes in how people learn about themselves and others. Building a profile, seeking validation in the form of "likes" or "followers" or swipes to the right on Tinder, dealing with rejection when validation fails to materialize in the expected form or quantity, have become common activities for people across generations. Correspondingly, people ask for and give advice as to how to best present oneself and how to deal with rejection, on blogs, forums, Q&A platforms, books and other media. Technologically mediated interaction leads to metric forms of validation, as users count the likes and matches they receive and optimize self-presentations to achieve desired numbers, among others. Digital platforms also make possible the gathering of digital traces about oneself and others and the interpretation of data-from personal self-tracking to wider exercises of observation and analysis of communities. People who are active on Tinder learn how to interpret profiles and numbers that are specific to this platform, how to react when metrics are disappointing and how to fine tune their self-presentation. Knowledge about oneself is intimately related to knowledge about the digital platform mechanisms, its incentives and mechanics, and to knowledge about other users' strategies. We illustrate how Tinder encourages reflexivity about one's dating skills and erotic capital while at the same time encouraging a systemic understanding of online dating as a social game with specific technological incentives that continuously change the field of intimate interaction.
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While Tinder (i.e., a popular mobile dating app) has received quite some research attention, its effects on users’ well-being have rarely been addressed. The present study investigates the extent to which Tinder users’ compulsive use, motives, subjective online success and self-conscious social comparison are associated with their well-being (i.e., joviality, sadness, and anxiety). In total, 296 (39% females; 90% heterosexuals) emerging adults who were currently using Tinder completed an online survey. The results suggest that while using Tinder compulsively and for relationship seeking can increase joviality, they may trigger more negative than positive affect. Moreover, feeling unsuccessful on Tinder and making self-conscious social comparisons were positively associated with sadness and anxiety, and negatively associated with joviality. The results seem to imply that Tinder users need to be aware of their compulsive Tinder use, relationship seeking motive, unsuccessful feeling, and/or self-conscious social comparison tendency on Tinder to better understand the consequences of their Tinder use. Although the current study is based on cross-sectional data, the findings suggest an association between using Tinder and users’ well-being. Future research could extend these findings by utilizing a longitudinal research design and including other aspects of well-being and psychopathology such as life satisfaction and depression.
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The present study aimed to examine differences in three psychological constructs (satisfaction with life, loneliness, and helplessness) among adults experiencing ghosting and breadcrumbing. A sample of 626 adults (303 males and 323 females), aged from 18 to 40 years, completed an online survey asking to indicate whether someone they considered a dating partner had ghosted or breadcrumbed them in the last year and to complete three different scales regarding satisfaction with life, loneliness, and helplessness. The results showed than those participants who had indicated experiencing breadcrumbing or the combined forms (both breadcrumbing and ghosting) reported less satisfaction with life, and more helplessness and self-perceived loneliness. The results from the regression models showed that suffering breadcrumbing would significantly increase the likelihood of experiencing less satisfaction with life, and of having more feelings of loneliness and helplessness. However, no significant relation was found between ghosting and any of the examined psychological correlates.
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Ghosting describes a popular contemporary dating disengagement strategy that abruptly ends communication using technological medium(s). For the target of ghosting, the noninitiator, the action usually creates an incomplete account of the loss. This investigation explores the non-initiators’ retroactive rationalization of ghosting as loss. Utilizing Amazon Mechanical Turk, we conducted two studies. In Study I, noninitiators (N=189) provided reasons for why they were ghosted. Utilizing analytic induction, eight themes emerged from non-initiators accounts. In Study II, (N¼169), the themes were further examined to determine validity. The retrospective rationalizations determine the incoherent account-making processes in post-dissolution from ghosting.
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This chapter explores the posited commercialisation of intimate relationships and the threat that this is perceived to pose to traditional forms of commitment (Illouz, Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007; Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012). It draws on a qualitative study of heterosexual male Tinder users, with analysis undermining the distinction between ‘hook-ups’ and long-term commitment, as participants began all encounters casually before they potentially developed further. Encounters initiated on the app were dominated by heteronormative scripts, reflecting wider structural gender inequalities rather than fundamentally challenging them. On the basis of these findings, there is limited evidence to suggest that the use of dating apps such as Tinder reflects either the emancipatory potential of the Internet or the commercialisation of intimate life.
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The paradox of modern dating is that online platforms provide more opportunities to find a romantic partner than ever before, but people are nevertheless more likely to be single. We hypothesized the existence of a rejection mind-set: The continued access to virtually unlimited potential partners makes people more pessimistic and rejecting. Across three studies, participants immediately started to reject more hypothetical and actual partners when dating online, cumulating on average in a decrease of 27% in chance on acceptance from the first to the last partner option. This was explained by an overall decline in satisfaction with pictures and perceived dating success. For women, the rejection mind-set also resulted in a decreasing likelihood of having romantic matches. Our findings suggest that people gradually “close off” from mating opportunities when online dating.
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The purpose of this study is to examine relational dissolution using the technique of ghosting. This qualitative study explores the emerging adults’ dissolution strategies leading up to and through enactment of disengagement through mediated contexts. Participants (N = 99) completed questionnaires about their ghosting familiarity and participation as initiators or noninitiators. The majority of participants reported participating in both roles. Five themes described why initiators chose to enact ghosting, and three themes chronicled their ghosting decision-making processes. Noninitiators illustrated how they realized ghosting occurred through three themes. This exploratory investigation offers a definitive definition of ghosting and a modern discussion of its contents to dissolution, communication, and romantic relationship development.
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Tinder is a frequently used geosocial networking application that allows users to meet sexual partners in their geographical vicinity. Research examining Tinder use and its association with behavioral outcomes is scarce. The objectives of this study were to explore the correlates of Tinder use and risky sexual behaviors in young adults. Participants aged 18-26 were invited to complete an anonymous online questionnaire between January and May 2016. Measures included sociodemographic characteristics, Tinder use, health related behaviors, risky sexual behaviors, and sexual attitudes. Associations among these variables were estimated using multivariate logistic regressions. The final sample consisted of 415 participants (n = 166 Tinder users; n = 249 nonusers). Greater likelihood of using Tinder was associated with a higher level of education (OR = 2.18) and greater reported need for sex (OR = 1.64), while decreased likelihood of using Tinder was associated with a higher level of academic achievement (OR = 0.63), lower sexual permissiveness (OR = 0.58), living with parents or relatives (OR = 0.38), and being in a serious relationship (OR = 0.24). Higher odds of reporting nonconsensual sex (OR = 3.22) and having five or more previous sexual partners (OR = 2.81) were found in Tinder users. Tinder use was not significantly associated with condom use. This study describes significant correlates of using Tinder and highlights a relationship between Tinder use with nonconsensual sex and number of previous sexual partners. These findings have salience for aiding public health interventions to effectively design interventions targeted at reducing risky sexual behaviors online.
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In Liquid Love Zygmunt Bauman argued that the solidity and security once provided by lifelong partnerships has been 'liquefied' by rampant individualisation and technological change. He believes internet dating is symptomatic of social and technological change that transforms modern courtship into a type of commodified game. This article explores the experiences of users of digital dating and hookup applications (or 'apps') in order to assess the extent to which a digital transformation of intimacy might be under way. It examines the different affordances provided by dating apps, and whether users feel the technology has influenced their sexual practices and views on long-term relationships, monogamy and other romantic ideals. This study shows that dating apps are intermediaries through which individuals engage in strategic performances in pursuit of love, sex and intimacy. Ultimately, this article contends that some accounts of dating apps and modern romantic practices are too pessimistic, and downplay the positives of 'networked intimacy'.
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Mobile dating apps have become a popular means to meet potential partners. Although several exist, one recent addition stands out amongst all others. Tinder presents its users with pictures of people geographically nearby, whom they can either like or dislike based on first impressions. If two users like each other, they are allowed to initiate a conversation via the chat feature. In this paper we use a set of curated profiles to explore the behaviour of men and women in Tinder. We reveal differences between the way men and women interact with the app, highlighting the strategies employed. Women attain large numbers of matches rapidly, whilst men only slowly accumulate matches. To expand on our findings, we collect survey data to understand user intentions on Tinder. Most notably, our results indicate that a little effort in grooming profiles, especially for male users, goes a long way in attracting attention.
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Although the smartphone application Tinder is increasingly popular among emerging adults, no empirical study has yet investigated why emerging adults use Tinder. Therefore, we aimed to identify the primary motivations of emerging adults to use Tinder. The study was conducted among Dutch 18-30 year old emerging adults who completed an online survey. Over half of the sample were current or former Tinder users (n = 163). An exploratory factor analysis, using a parallel analysis approach, uncovered six motivations to use Tinder: Love, Casual Sex, Ease of Communication, Self-Worth Validation, Thrill of Excitement, and Trendiness. In contrast to previously suggested, the Love motivation appeared to be a stronger motivation to use Tinder than the Casual Sex motivation. In line with literature on online dating, men were more likely to report a Casual Sex motivation for using Tinder than women. In addition, men more frequently reported Ease of Communication and Thrill of Excitement motives. With regard to age, the motivation Love, Casual Sex and Ease of Communication were positively related to age. Finally, Tinder motivations were meaningfully related to offline encounters with Tinder matches. In sum, the study showed that emerging adults have six primary motivations to use Tinder and that these motivations differ according to one's age and gender. Tinder should not be seen as merely a fun, hookup app without any strings attached, but as a new way for emerging adults to initiate committed romantic relationships. Notably, the findings call for a more encompassing perspective on why emerging adults use Tinder.
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This article seeks to amplify discursive constructions of social connection through technology with an examination of the proposed and presumed intimacies of the Tinder app. In the first half, we ethnographically examine the sociotechnical dynamics of how users navigate the app and take up or resist the subject positions encouraged by the user interface feature of swiping. In the second half, we provide a discussion of the implications of the swipe logic through post-structural conceptual lenses interrogating the ironic disruption of intimacy of Tinder’s interface.
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We study smoking-cessation apps in order to formulate a framework for ethical evaluation, analyzing apps as ‘medium’, ‘market’, and ‘genre’. We center on the value of user autonomy through truthfulness and self-understanding. Smoking-cessation apps usually communicate in an anonymous ‘app voice’, with little presence of professional or other identified voices. Because of the fast-and-frugal communication, truthfulness is problematic. Messages in the ‘quantification’ modules may be read as deceitfully accurate. The app voice frames smoking as a useless, damaging habit indicative of weakness of will, in a ‘cold-turkey’ frame of individual mind-over-body heroism. Thus apps contribute to a stigmatization of smokers and culpabilization of relapses. The potential to support user autonomy through diverse meaningful voices and personalized communication remains yet unused.
This article provides an analysis of the “dating app” Tinder as an aesthetic ludic artifact. By scrutinizing the title’s features of gameplay and expressive–interpretive social interaction, Tinder usage is set into a frame theory context and shown to operate by multiple overlapping frames that allow romantic engagement to be entered as play and vice versa.
This article reconceptualizes the pharmacological term “off-label use” in the context of platforms and apps. It combines literature on technological appropriation with research on platforms’ sociotechnical arrangements to understand off-label use as platform appropriation. This conceptual work is applied to an investigation of Tinder, involving analysis of the platform, media articles, and interviews. Findings show that off-label use, such as marketing and campaigning, appropriates Tinder’s infrastructure and sociocultural meanings. Tinder also responds to disruptive off-label uses with changes in governance and infrastructure. This analysis shows how off-label use can locate user agency while uncovering shifting relations among users and platforms.
On Instagram, the accounts Bye Felipe and Tinder Nightmares feature screen-grabbed messages of sexist abuse and harassment women have received from men on dating apps. This paper presents a discursive analysis of 526 posts from these Instagrams. Utilising a psychosocial and feminist poststructuralist perspective, it examines how harassing messages reproduce certain gendered discourses and (hetero)sexual scripts, and analyses how harassers attempt to position themselves and the feminine subject in interaction. The analysis presents two themes, termed the “not hot enough” discourse and the “missing discourse of consent”, which are unpacked to reveal a patriarchal logic in which a woman's constructed “worth” in the online sexual marketplace resides in her beauty and sexual propriety. Occurring in response to women's exercise of choice and to (real or imagined) sexual rejection, it is argued these are disciplinary discourses that attempt to (re)position women and femininity as sexually subordinate to masculinity and men. This paper makes a novel contribution to a growing body of feminist work on online harassment and misogyny. It also considers the implications for feminist theorising on the link between postfeminism and contemporary forms of sexism, and ends with some reflections on strategies of feminist resistance.
p>Moral outrage is an ancient emotion that is now widespread on digital media and online social networks. How might these new technologies change the expression of moral outrage and its social consequences?</p
Conference Paper
Online dating sites have become a common means of finding a romantic partner. And yet, these sites differ greatly from many other socially oriented websites: perhaps most notably, the pairwise style of interaction afforded by these sites prevents a robust online community from forming. Users, however, have taken matters into their own hands by creating thriving external forums for discussion of specific dating sites. We report on a multiple methods study of two online dating services, via observation and interviews with users of the forums associated with these sites. Our findings suggest that these forums play an essential role in creating an "outsourced community" for the dating sites, and also reveal practices around how some users "game the system" in online dating, the prevalence of harassment in online dating, and users' frustrations with current dating sites. We conclude with a number of recommendations for system design.
Online dating is often lauded for improving the dating experience by giving singles large pools of potential partners from whom to choose. This experiment investigates how the number of choices online daters are given, and whether these choices are reversible, affects romantic outcomes. Drawing on the choice overload and decision reversibility theoretical frameworks, we show that, a week after making their selection, online daters who chose from a large set of potential partners (i.e., 24) were less satisfied with their choice than those who selected from a small set (i.e., 6), and were more likely to change their selection. While choice reversibility did not affect daters’ satisfaction, those who selected from a large pool and had the ability to reverse their choice were the least satisfied with their selected partner after one week. The results advance understanding of how media features related to choice affect interpersonal evaluations.
Choice is what enables each person to pursue precisely those objects and activities that best satisfy his or her own preferences within the limits of his or her resources. This chapter argues that choice, and with it freedom, autonomy, and self-determination, can become excessive, and that when that happens, freedom can be experienced as a kind of misery-inducing tyranny. Though one cannot be free without choice, it is arguable that choice-induced paralysis is a sign of diminished rather than enhanced freedom. Though policy initiatives can operate to minimize the negative effects of choice overload, they contain the danger that they will simultaneously undermine the positive effects of freedom of choice. The reason people can say anything and be understood is that they cannot say anything in any way they want. It is linguistic constraint, in the form of these rules, that makes linguistic freedom possible.
We discuss the challenges of applying a game design frame on a learning activity, through a case study of a gamified collaborative review exercise. We distinguish problems of gameplay from problems of divergence between game and non-game logics. Using Béguin & Rabardel's theory of instrumental genesis we observe how the gamification instrument shapes the review activity, in the process of continuously adapting artifacts and users' activity schemes. We identify locally emergent solutions to the divergence issue: players resort to half-engagement with the game and tailor gameplay strategies, selectively ignoring, observing or bending rules such as to manage the relative priorities of game and non-game objectives. In our case study gamification is more than an engine for fun: it facilitates learning by structuring the collaborative activity in memorable events with specific tempo, attention focus, and communication style. Constant adjustment enriches learning and becomes part of the game.
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