Dating apps on smartphones have brought speed dating on the Internet to a new level. This exploratory investigation sought to determine what kinds of people use these apps, what their motivations are, and what precautions they take before meeting someone. One hundred and seventy-three non-users and 57 current users of dating apps were surveyed. The data suggest that the strongest motive for using dating apps is not for dating or sex, but for entertainment. On the other hand, the more frequent users of these apps are people whose personalities are predisposed towards varied sexual partners. These different motives may represent a disconnect between those who wish to kill time and those who are seeking sexual partners.
A new form of online dating is becoming popular in which one downloads an app that helps one locate nearby people looking for dates. One such app called Tinder is beginning to receive a lot of attention due to its popularity and the ease with which one can make judgments based on appearance alone. Khiri and de Keijser (2013) explain that the app connects to the user’s Facebook profile. The user selects the photo or photos they wish to represent them, write a short “about me” section, and their profile is ready to go. Then, anyone of the sex or sexes they indicate they are interested within a certain geographic range (usually within a few miles) becomes potential romantic interests, if those people indicate they are interested in the user’s sex. The user then sees profiles of their potential nearby romantic interests one at a time. They either indicate a positive or negative response. If the person the user just provided a positive response to had previously given the user a positive response, then the app offers the user the opportunity to send text messages via the app to that person. According to Tinder (2014) they make “more than 10 million matches every single day.”
In some of the popular press articles that have appeared, the goals for using these kinds of apps are varied. Spira (2014) describes some as using the app for finding romantic partners, potentially for long-term relationships. But others are reported to use the app as a game the way they might play any other game they download to their smartphone. Glantz (2014) reports concerns that the app focuses too much on appearance instead of interpersonal compatibility.
Despite the increasing popularity of these dating apps, little scholarly attention has been brought to bear on these kinds of apps. Some initial studies focusing on Grindr, a similar dating app for men interested in men, have focused on the kinds of self-presentation tactics users employ on the apps (Birnholtz, et al., 2014; Blackwell, et al., 2015). Yet none, to the authors’ knowledge, have begun to explore fundamental questions about this new kind of phone based super-speed dating such as what kinds of people use it? Why do they use it? How do they decide to meet people? This report will explore these questions via a survey of users and non-users of these apps.
This work is important theoretically and practically. Theoretically, these apps represent a continuation of a trend towards dating via choosing from many alternative partners. Before Internet dating, people chose their mates from the available pool of people they met via school, work, or social circles. They generally met them one at a time. Even speed dating sessions would only expose them to a few dozen people at a time. With Internet dating, people can browse through photos and detailed profiles of as many people as they wish. With dating apps, they can simply skim through photos and reject anyone deemed insufficiently attractive with a simple swipe of their thumb across a screen. The trend is toward higher and higher volume of choices, made more and more quickly. It is important to understand both what kind of people are choosing to date this way and what effects that might have on their behavior.
On a practical level, these apps may enable increased access to casual sex. Casual sex, especially among young people, can often be risky sex without condoms (Buhi, et al., 2010). If such apps are contributing to causal sex, it would be worth knowing. It is also possible that people are meeting those they meet on the app without precautions such as meeting in public, due how geographically close the users are to each other.
This paper will first propose a variety of personality traits that may be associated with using dating apps and using them in particular ways. Then the ways people use it will be examined. Finally, the precautions people take or do not take will be discussed. Then a study designed to begin answering these questions will be described and its results reported.
Who might be using dating apps
This study will investigate three kinds of personality traits that might predict who uses dating apps and how they use them: sociability, impulsiveness, and interest in varied sexual partners. Initially, Zuckerman (2002) described sociability as a stable personality trait that is indicated by the extent to which the individual enjoys interacting with as many people as possible. Dating apps offer a means of interact with many people. They are only limited by the range of people they are willing to provide a positive indication for on the app.
Additionally, the speed with which one can meet people and interact with them may attract a different personality type. Given the ability to restrict the people displayed to those within close proximity, one could easily meet someone on the app and then physically interact with that person within minutes. That quick gratification might appeal to two types of related personality traits: impulsivity (Patton, et al., 1995) and sensation seeking (Zuckerman, et al., 1993). Impulsiveness, as a trait, was initially conceptualized by Barratt (1959) in an effort to understand difficulty with learning tasks. The initial scale has been developed to cover a general tendency towards making quick decisions and focusing only on the present (Patton, et al., 1995). Impulsive people may be drawn to dating apps due to the speed with which they can rate people. Impulsiveness has been linked to a variety of risky behaviors (Stanford, et al., 1996) and may be connected to both using the app extensively and quickly meeting people one meets on dating apps.
The conceptually similar trait, sensation seeking, may also be related to using dating apps. Sensation seeking is conceptualized as “a general need for thrills and excitement” as well as a “need for change and novelty” . Such people may be drawn to dating apps to provide a steady stream of novel people and experiences. Zuckerman (2002) reports that the trait is generally associated with risky behavior and particularly risky sex.
Using an app that focuses on appearance, and enabling one to quickly and easily meet people who are attractive, may also be associated with traits associated with a higher interest in sex. Kalichman, et al. (1994) explain that sexual sensation seeking focuses the sensation seeking concept of constantly seeking novelty onto sexual experiences such that sexual sensation seeking is predicted to be associated with a desire for varied sexual partners. If dating apps provide an outlet for impulsively seeking a romantic partner, using these apps may only be associated with impulsiveness of sexual sensation seeking. If the impulsiveness is not directed at finding long-term partners but causal sexual encounters, it seems likely that sexual sensation seeking will be a stronger predictor of dating app use. If so, then app users might be people of concern as sexual sensation seeking is also associated with a greater likelihood of risky sex (Kalichman, et al., 1994).
Along similar lines, sociosexual orientation was conceptualized as the extent to which someone has a restricted or unrestricted orientation towards sexual activity (Gangestad and Simpson, 1990). Someone expressing a restricted orientation will only engage in sexual activity in a stable and committed relationship. Someone with an unrestricted orientation, on the other hand, is willing to have sex fairly quickly upon meeting a desirable partner. They conceptualize the variable as a continuous one, albeit one with a bimodal distribution. If possessing a more unrestricted orientation is associated with app use, it would suggest that the move towards quicker and more photo-based matchmaking is more likely to be used by people who wish to use such apps for casual sex, rather than finding long-term partners.
Goals, dating, and micro-dating goals
Researchers of first dates have identified several interpersonal goals that people pursue during first dates (Mongeau, et al., 2004). These goals can be organized around four main categories — interpersonal relationships; sexual activity; entertainment and having fun; and, increased social status. Relational goals include objectives such as seeking love, establishing a meaningful relationships, or even identifying a potential spouse (Clark, et al., 1999; Mongeau, et al., 2004) Roscoe, et al., 1987). Sexual goals include advancing physical affection including kissing, hand holding, and intercourse (Clark, et al., 1999; Mongeau, et al., 2004). Entertainment goals include dating simply for recreation or to have fun, and seeking companionship for engaging in entertaining activities (Clark, et al., 1999; Mongeau, et al., 2004). Status goals include impressing others or increasing social status by dating an attractive other (Roscoe, et al., 1987; Clark, et al., 1999). It should be noted that people can and do pursue multiple goals at once and there can be some overlap between categories (i.e., pursuing sex as entertainment or pursuing a relationship through increased physical affection).
In some ways, micro-dating through smartphone applications resemble the context of a first date. People present a preferred version of self in order to pursue one or more of the goals implicit within the first date context. Thus, micro-daters may ascribe to similar goals as daters in face-to-face contexts. The most obvious reason that people might use micro-dating apps is because they are looking for someone to date and with whom they might possibly pursue a romantic relationship. That motive may be the strongest motivation for using the app more frequently and sending messages on micro-dating apps more frequently.
Popular accounts suggest that the dating goal of entertainment may be an important one for micro-dating app users (Spira, 2014). Some users may simply treat the app as a game and never intend to meet anyone face-to-face on the app. They simply rate people and perhaps chat with people because they are bored and see the app as a way to kill time. This behavior would be similar to communicative behavior in other online contexts. Research on Facebook uses suggests that even though the ostensible reason for Facebook is to interact with people, one of the reasons people use Facebook is for entertainment rather than to fill a social need (Park, et al., 2009). Such an entertainment motivation to use dating apps may be associated with using it, but that motivation would be likely to be negatively associated with the frequency with which they actually meet people. Entertainment goals such as enjoying the dating partners’ companionship are more likely to be mentioned by women than men in the context of first dates (Mongeau, et al., 2004).
Finally, certain features of micro-dating apps may shift daters’ perceptions of various goals. For example, the heavy focus on physical attractiveness may facilitate an environment where sexual goals are more salient to daters. In addition, micro-dating apps are often called “hook-up” apps (Robbins, 2015). Although the term hook-up is somewhat amorphous, a “hook-up” generally refers to some type of sexual activity (ranging from kissing to intercourse) between two people where little to no other romantic commitment is expected (Owen, et al., 2010; Paul, et al., 2000). Hook-ups are fairly normative for young adults with estimates of percentages of college students participating “hook-up” ranging anywhere from one-third (Grello, et al., 2006) to greater than two-thirds (Lambert, et al., 2003; Paul, et al., 2000). College men may be more likely to experience hook-ups (Lambert, et al., 2003; Paul, et al., 2000), seek more sexual goals on first dates (Mongeau, et al., 2007), and have less negative reactions to hooking up (Owen, et al., 2010) than college women.
Micro-dating apps represent an intersection between first dates and hook-up cultures. Given the cultural space where micro-dating apps exist, not only may gender differences related to hook-ups apply but gender differences related to first dates may also influence users’ behavior. In first date situations, male college students were more likely to mention sex as a goal (Mongeau, et al., 2007). In addition, men are more likely to ascribe sexual goals to dating partners (Henningsen, et al., 2011), particularly when the first date is initiated by a woman (Mongeau and Carey, 1996; Mongeau and Johnson, 1995).
Meeting people face-to-face
Another area of concern concerns how people choose to meet face-to-face. Ideally, they would meet in a public place at least for the first time, for added safety. A less safe option would be to meet in the home of the person they met on a dating app. For those who have unrestricted socio-sexual orientations or are high in sexual sensation seeking, meeting at someone’s home might seem ideal due to the perceived higher likelihood of sex. It also seems likely that those who see dating apps as a means to finding casual sex partners would also be more inclined to meet at someone’s home. Therefore, this study will examine what personality traits and motives might predict requiring a public meeting or being willing to go back to someone’s home immediately.
This study sought to survey both users and non-users of dating apps to begin exploring who uses dating apps, why they use them, and how they meet face-to-face. In order to examine these issues a survey was constructed and fielded that included measures concerning dating app use and personality traits.
The sample was recruited from an undergraduate participant pool at a medium-sized American university in the Midwest and from a snowball sample obtained by posting a survey request on Facebook. Two hundred and seven individuals were from the student sample and 23 were from the snowball sample. There were 230 participants (143 women, 83 men, four chose not to answer). Their sexual orientation was assessed with a seven-point scale ranging from one-homosexual to seven-heterosexual. There were 14 participants who responded with a number below four, four at four, and 203 above four. Nine either did not answer or chose to self-describe. Of these one wrote “queer,” one chose six but wrote “currently dating a female but im not sexually attracted to females,” another wrote “asexual” and the others did not write anything in. Their average age was 22.26 (SD=5.97).
The participants who chose to follow the offered link to the survey first viewed an informed consent form. If they agreed, the survey questions were displayed. They were first asked about their use of dating apps. Those who had such an app were then about how they used the apps and how they would be willing to meet people face-to-face. Everyone then responded to the personality measures. Demographics were requested last.
The means, standard deviations, and when appropriate, the reliability estimates of the continuous variables are shown in Table 1. To calculate scores on multi-item measures, averages of the items were used for composite measures. The participants first indicated if they had a dating app installed on a smartphone or tablet (24.78 percent), used to have a dating app (13.91 percent) or did not have a dating app (61.30 percent). Among those who indicated they did have a dating app, they were asked how often the access it on a six-point scale ranging from “Never” to “Almost Constantly.” On the same response scale, they were next asked how often they message people on their dating app.
Table 1: Means, standard deviations, and reliability estimates. Variable Mean Standard deviation Reliability Frequency of use 2.45 1.33 Frequency of messaging 1.86 1.34 Purpose: Sex 3.61 1.88 0.93 Purpose: Dating 3.70 1.65 0.88 Purpose: Entertainment 5.33 1.38 0.93 Would go to home 3.93 1.82 Would only meet public 4.54 1.81 Sociability 0.54 0.25 0.71 Impulsiveness 2.39 0.44 0.74 Sensation seeking 0.57 0.28 0.77 Sexual sensation seeking 2.15 0.71 0.86 Sociosexual orientation 2.81 1.45 0.74
Then they were asked questions about their motives for using a dating app with seven-point Likert response scales. Three items were written to indicate the extent to which they were using dating apps for entertainment. These items concerned the extent they used the app for fun, that they enjoyed looking at photos, and the extent to which they wanted to see who was on the app. Three items attempted to capture the extent to which they used the app largely to find sexual partners. These items asked about their belief that they will have sex with people they meet, that their purpose is for finding sexual partners, and that they use the app to find quick sex partners. The third motivation measured with another three items was the extent to which they used dating apps to meet people for romantic partners. These items asked if they expected to meet people to date, that their purpose is to meet new people, and that their purpose was to meet a new romantic partner. They were next asked which app they used. Of those with a dating app, 83.93 percent used Tinder, 12.50 percent used Grindr, 1.79 percent used Blendr, and 1.79 percent wrote in “Who is here.”
Next, the conditions under which they would meet someone face-to-face that they had met on a dating app were investigated. For these two items, the response scales were seven-point Likert scales. First they were asked if they would be willing to go to “his or her place” to meet. The other item asked if they would “only meet someone I met through the app in a public place.”
Following these were the personality measures. Impulsiveness was measured with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11; Patton, et al., 1995). It included 30 items with six-point response scales ranging from “Never” to “Always.” Next the participants responded to the Sexual Sensation Seeking scale. It included nine items with a four-point response scale ranging from “Not at all like me” to “Very much like me.” The sociability and sensation seeking subscales of the Zuckerman, et al. (1993) personality measures were used to measure those traits. Each subscale contained 10 items with true/false response options. Finally, the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory with updated items from Penke and Asendorpf (2008) was included. This measure used nine items covering sexual activity, attitudes towards sexual activity, and desire for sexual activity. The response scale varied by the items, but all were on nine-point response scales in order to create a composite average with higher scores indicating a more unrestricted sociosexual orientation.
The examination of the results of the survey will proceed by first examining which traits predicted use of dating apps. Then the motives for using the app will be examined. The predictors of meeting people in public or at someone’s home will be predicted. Finally, sex differences will be examined. A correlation matrix of the measured variables is presented in Table 2.
Table 2: Correlation matrix.
– 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 1. Frequency of use – – – – – – – – – – – 2. Frequency of messaging 0.58* – – – – – – – – – – 3. Purpose: Sex 0.31* 0.46* – – – – – – – – – 4. Purpose: Dating 0.27* 0.36* 0.48* – – – – – – – – 5. Purpose: Entertainment 0.14 0.45* 0.31* 0.37* – – – – – – – 6. Would go to home 0.08 0.19 0.68* 0.23 0.27* – – – – – – 7. Would only meet public 0.24 0.31* -0.05 0.24 0.46* -0.27* – – – – – 8. Sociability -0.06 -0.14 -0.16 -0.02 0.25 -0.04 0.16 – – – – 9. Impulsiveness 0.26* 0.33* 0.35* .32* 0.45* 0.31* 0.46* 0.06 – – – 10. Sensation seeking 0.06 0.22 0.15 -0.09 .31* 0.08 0.15 0.41* 0.29* – – 11. Sexual sensation seeking 0.25 0.23 0.56* 0.24 0.22 0.35* 0.11 0.11 0.36* 0.31* – 12. Sociosexual orientation 0.07 0.18 0.48* 0.14 0.20 0.44* -0.12 0.14* 0.28* 0.24* 0.68*
Predicting dating app use
A one-way ANOVA was calculated with dating app status (do not have a dating app, used to have a dating app but deleted it, currently have a dating app) as the factor and each personality trait as the continuous variable. Table 3 shows the means, standard deviations, statistical test, and effect size for each personality trait. In all cases the tests were statistically significant. Either having a dating app or previously having a dating app was associated with greater levels of each trait than not having the app. It appears that people who choose to use dating apps are more sociable, more impulsive, and have a greater interest in sex.
Table 3: Mean, standard deviation, F-test, p-value, and eta-squared estimates with having a dating app as between subjects factor.
Note: Means within a test that do not share subscripts have a statistically significant difference p<.05.
Predictor App status Mean SD F p η2 Sociability Do not havea 0.49 0.26 8.26 <.01 0.07 Used to havea,b 0.57 0.23 Have nowb 0.64 0.21 Impulsiveness Do not havea 2.34 0.31 3.34 .04 .03 Used to havea,b 2.43 0.39 Have nowb 2.51 0.66 Sensation seeking Do not havea 0.51 0.26 10.36 <.01 0.08 Used to haveb 0.67 0.28 Have nowb 0.68 0.28 Sexual sensation seeking Do not havea 1.97 0.65 13.66 <.01 0.11 Used to haveb 2.37 0.59 Have nowb 2.48> 0.76 Sociosexual orientation Do not havea 2.36 1.21 20.25 <.01 0.15 Used to haveb 3.40 1.45 Have nowb 3.58 1.56
Another way to examine the personality traits that affect having dating apps is to use binary logistic regression to compare people who currently have a dating app and those who have never used one. The results in Table 4 show that when the other personality types are controlled for, only sociability and sociosexual orientation were substantial and statistically significant predictors. Higher levels of sociability and a more unrestricted sociosexual orientation were most strongly associated with an increased likelihood of having a dating app.
Table 4: Binary logistic regression results with have app/never had the app as outcome.
Note: * p<.05.
B SE Wald Sociability 0.51 0.21 5.92* Impulsiveness 0.05 0.19 0.079 Sensation seeking 0.28 0.21 1.737 Sexual sensation seeking 0.22 0.25 0.744 SOI 0.62 0.24 6.6*
Examination of Table 2 shows that among those who use the app, more frequent general use as well as more frequently sending messages on dating apps was substantially and positively associated with impulsiveness. None of the other three personality traits showed a statistically significant association with frequently using dating apps or sending messages on them. Attempts to regress these use variables on the personality traits produced statistically non-significant results.
Motives for dating app use
First, data were examined to determine, among the three motives (entertainment, dating, or sex), which was the strongest. A repeated measures ANOVA found a statistically significant difference among them, F(2,112)=32.14, p<.001, such that entertainment was the strongest (M=5.33, SD=1.38) over both dating (M=3.70, SD=1.65) and sex (M=3.61, SD=1.88). Examination of Table 2 shows that although sex was the strongest motive, all three were statistically significant predictors of how often the participants used dating apps and messaged people on them.
Next, the relationships between the three motives and the five measured personality traits were examined. The extent to which users reported using the app to find sexual partners was positively associated with impulsiveness, sexual sensation seeking, and an unrestricted sociosexual orientation. Using the app for dating was positively associated with impulsiveness. Using the app for entertainment was positively associated with impulsiveness and sensation seeking.
In order to assess the impact of the personality traits on each motive while controlling for the other traits, linear regression was again used. The results are displayed in Table 5. The sex motive was positively predicted by sexual sensation seeking and sociosexual orientation and negatively predicted by sociability. For both the dating and fun motives, when controlling for the other variables, only impulsiveness remained a statistically significant predictor.
Table 5: Results of linear regressions with beta weights and R2 for personality predictors of the three motivations for using the app.
Note: * p<.05.
Outcome Sex Dating Fun Sociability -.26* 0.01 0.2 Impulsiveness 0.05 0.33* 0.43* Sensation seeking 0.04 -0.23 0.15 Sexual sensation seeking 0.33* 0.12 -0.08 SOI 0.31* -0.01 0.03 R2 0.40* 0.15 0.28*
Meeting people face-to-face
Although there are a lot of ways that one could meet someone from the app, meeting them in a public place versus meeting them at their home were considered as the safest and most dangerous options, respectively. A paired samples t-test established that participants who use dating apps would be somewhat more likely to meet someone new from a dating app in public (M=4.54, SD=1.81) than meet at that person’s home, but this difference was not statistically significant (M=3.91, SD=1.83), t(55)=1.61, p=.11, r=.21.
Among the personality traits, Table 2 shows that the strongest predictors of meeting at someone’s home were impulsiveness, sexual sensation seeking and possessing an unrestricted sociosexual orientation. Additionally, participants who reported their motive for using the app for sex and entertainment were also more likely to agree to meet at someone’s home. The extent to which the users would only meet in public was, surprisingly positively correlated with impulsiveness. It was also correlated with using the app for entertainment. None of the other traits of motives were statistically significant predictors. Agreeing that they would only meet in public was also negatively correlated with being willing to meet them at home, suggesting one pursues one strategy or the other.
There were several sex differences in line with expectations. First, men (M=4.14, SD=1.84) were more likely to believe that the app was for meeting sexual partners than women (M=2.50, SD=1.55) t(53)=3.28, p<.01, r=.41. Additionally, men (M=4.55, SD=1.64) were more willing than women (M=2.61, SD=1.54) to meet at the date’s place t(54)=4.22, p<.01, r=.50. On the other hand, women (M=5.44, SD=1.65) were more likely than men (M=4.11, SD=1.76) to only meet in a public place t(53)=2.69, p<.01, r=.35.
Generally, people tended to indicate that they used the app for entertainment more than they wanted to use it for dating or sex. This finding suggests that although such apps are ostensibly to encourage people to meet, many people may be using them without such intentions. This finding creates the possibility that those who do use the app may be disappointed when their interactions do not lead to meeting others. Dating Web sites that did not lead to face-to-face dates would be unsuccessful, yet these apps seem to flourish. Some people clearly are using the apps for dating or sex so it may be difficult for users to distinguish between entertainment users and dating users. Dating users may feel ill-used after chatting with an attractive person for some time without being able to meet that person face-to-face because their chat partner was only killing time. For many, these dating apps may be better classified as flirting apps.
On the other hand, the most frequent users were people high in sexual sensation seeking and with unrestricted sociosexual orientations. These are people who, as expected, were more likely to be using dating apps for finding sexual partners. Theoretically, these findings suggest that dating apps might be better classified as casual sex apps. For people with strong interests in a variety of sex partners, dating apps are a perfect addition to their smart phone. Dating apps offer the affordance of quickly finding people who are sexually attractive and are sexually attracted to them. The casual “entertainment” users may be reluctant to meet them, but if they can sort part the entertainment users, the users who want to meet up may be more likely to possess their stronger interest in casual sex. Of course, for heterosexual men, their intentions to use the apps for sex is often stronger than women’s, so such men may have to sort through many female users to find the ones who have similar sociosexual orientations.
The gender differences found in this study are similar to those found in both the first dates and hook-up literature (Mongeau, et al., 2004; Owens, et al., 2010). Men were more likely to want to use the app for seeking sex than women. This mismatch in goals can lead to a negative experience with the dating app. Mongeau, et al. (2004) argued that “evaluating a date may depend in part, on the extent to which a person reached their goal” . Men interested in finding a sexual partner may be frustrated if all of the women they are able to reach out to do not share their goals for using such apps. Women who see the app as an entertainment venue may be annoyed when men who they swipe right on immediately proposition them for sex. It may be useful for users to strategically construct their profiles in order to signal which goals they are most interested in. Such strategies may be in use. Borrello (2015) provided examples of women who specifically noted they did not want to match with fellow Tinder users who were only looking for a hook-up.
The relatively stronger findings associated with sexual sensation seeking and sociosexual orientation versus the null findings for the general impulsiveness traits (impulsiveness and sensation seeking) suggests that in this context, specific scales are more helpful in predicting related constructs. Kalichman, et al. (1994) argued that sexual sensation seeking would be a stronger predictor of sexual behavior than general sensation seeking and this study is consistent with that prediction. If researchers wish to develop theories of casual sex, it may be more helpful to focus on traits specifically related to sex rather than related broadly to impulsiveness. Additional research is required in more varied contexts to confirm this prediction.
Finally, it was encouraging to see that there was a reluctance to meet strangers in their home (especially among women). The greater preference for meeting in public suggests that most of the users are aware of the dangers of meeting strangers. This preference is especially important given how many of the users may be expecting a sexual encounter from their face-to-face meeting.
Although efforts were made to recruit additional participants outside of the participant pool, it was still largely a student sample. In situations in which one is studying sexual behavior, student samples may skew findings. This research should be considered exploratory and lay the groundwork for additional work with broader samples. Married samples of users may be a particularly interesting subgroup.
Additionally, these data were cross sectional so changes over time could not be assessed. When examining variables that correlate cross sectionally with personality traits, it is often assumed that the trait is the cause and behavior is the effect. It is possible that increased use of a dating app and the potential for greater access to casual sex partners may change sociosexual orientation. Simpson, et al. (2004) noted that some perspectives on sociosexual orientation predict that such orientations are malleable over time. If one finds easy access to casual sex via a dating app, it may increase the extent to which one has an unrestricted orientation. To determine if this scenario is valid, measures of dating app use, casual sex frequency, and sociosexual orientation would have to be taken at several time points to assess changes.
This exploratory study set out to examine dating apps to determine who was using them, why they were using them, and how they went about meeting people face-to-face. The results present a dating environment where multiple goals are in play and primary goals of users who both “swipe right” may not match. People using micro-dating apps may have drastically different dating goals based on individual differences such as propensity for sexual sensation seeking or based on social gender norms. Future work on the affordances and usage patterns of micro-dating apps is required to understand the rapidly changing ways in which humans meet and fall in love or meet and fall into bed.
About the authors
Christopher J. Carpenter is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Western Illinois University.
E-mail: CJ-Carpenter2 [at] wiu [dot] edu
Bree McEwan is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Western Illinois University.
E-mail: B-McEwan [at] wiu [dot] edu
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Received 21 August 2015; accepted 18 March 2016.
Copyright © 2016, First Monday.
Copyright © 2016, Christopher J. Carpenter and Bree McEwan.
The players of micro-dating: Individual and gender differences in goal orientations toward micro-dating apps
by Christopher J. Carpenter and Bree McEwan.
First Monday, Volume 21, Number 5 - 2 May 2016