Research explores why people use Tinder and what kinds of connections they make
- A survey showed the majority of people believe that Tinder is a hookup app.
- The main reason people report using Tinder is that it’s popular and trendy.
- Among those looking for romance, people are more likely to use Tinder to look for a relationship than a hookup.
Since its launch in 2012, the dating app, Tinder, has received quite a bit of publicity. It’s one of the most popular lifestyle apps with over 10 million daily active users.
For the uninitiated, Tinder is a mobile dating app that allows users to locate other singles in their geographic area. Users fill out a brief bio and upload photos. They can then start viewing photos of other users who match their age, gender, and location criteria. Users swipe right if they like what they see and swipe left if they don’t. They are then notified of any matches, where both people swiped right on each other’s profiles. Thus, users can quickly view hundreds of local singles and decide with a quick swipe of their finger if they’re interested or not.
In the popular media, Tinder very much has the reputation of being a “hookup” app, designed to facilitate fleeting sexual encounters. At the peak of the Tinder hype, an article in Vanity Fair announced that Tinder represented the “dawn of the dating apocalypse.” Whereas others in the popular media have suggested that many use the app in search of love.
So, why do people use Tinder?
A recently published study by Leah LeFebvre surveyed 395 young adults (ages 18 to 34) who said they had used Tinder. 1 The study mostly involved open-ended questions regarding users’ motivations for and experiences using the app. The researchers then coded participants’ responses into categories.
So what was the most commonly cited reason for using Tinder? It’s popular: 48.3 percent of the respondents indicated that the main reason they used Tinder revolved around its popularity-the media hype or the fact that many of their peers were using it. Only about 5 percent of those surveyed indicated that the desire for hookups was their main motivation for joining the site. This data is summarized in the table below.
The participants were also asked what was the purpose of Tinder. When it came to people’s perceptions, not surprisingly, they were true to stereotype. 51.5 percent said they believed Tinder was designed for hooking up, 33.5 percent said dating, and 15 percent meeting people.
While this open-ended data is valuable, it doesn’t provide the whole story on why people use Tinder. Participants in LeFebvre’s study were asked what their main reason was for using the app, but people often have multiple motivations for their behaviors. Someone might primarily have joined Tinder because it seemed like the cool thing to do, but that person might also have a desire to meet a potential romantic partner or hookup.
In another recent study, by Sindy Sumter and colleagues, a sample of 163 Dutch Tinder users rated the extent to which various motives described their reasons for using Tinder. 2? The researchers then used a statistical technique to group those ratings into general categories. The categories and the average ratings of the participants for each category are summarized in the table below.
The most common motives for using Tinder: it’s exciting and it’s trendy. Another common motive that wasn’t cited in the LeFebvre study was self-worth validation. It was not uncommon for participants to use the app because they wanted positive feedback on Tinder or because receiving such feedback felt good. Naturally, finding a romantic partner was also a relatively common reason for using Tinder. As can be seen in the table, using the app for casual sex and hookups was actually less common than these other motives.