The popular dating app can impact the self-esteem and body image of both men and women
Tinder users can be more susceptible to developing a negative body image compared to those who don’t use the app, according to new research.
Male users in particular appear to have lower levels of self-esteem than men who do not use the app, said the University of North Texas researchers in their presentation at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
Tinder is a dating app available on mobile devices with a reported 50 million active users. Individual profiles are rated by other users as acceptable by swiping right or unacceptable by swiping left. If two users deem each other acceptable, then they are “matched” and can begin communicating with one another.
In the study, 1,044 women and 273 men who were mostly undergraduate students completed questionnaires that asked about their Tinder use as well as their body image, sociocultural factors and psychological wellbeing.
“Tinder users reported having lower levels of satisfaction with their faces and bodies and having lower levels of self-worth than the men and women who did not use Tinder,” said co-author Dr Jessica Strübel.
“We found that being actively involved with Tinder, regardless of the user’s gender, was associated with body dissatisfaction, body shame, body monitoring, internalisation of societal expectations of beauty, comparing oneself physically to others, and reliance on media for information on appearance and attractiveness,” said Strübel.
Approximately 10% of users reported using Tinder, with both genders of users reporting less satisfaction with their bodies and looks compared with non-users.
However, only male Tinder users reported lower levels of self-esteem.
“Although current body image interventions primarily have been directed toward women, our findings suggest that men are equally and negatively affected by their involvement in social media,” said Strübel.
She says a possible mechanism is that people who are on Tinder may begin to feel depersonalised and develop a heightened awareness of their looks and bodies.
However the results should be interpreted with caution as they could be reflecting the type of people drawn to Tinder rather than the app itself causing the results, the authors warn.
Surveys show people aged 16 to 34 years are the biggest users of Tinder, particularly those living in urban areas, with men outnumbering women 60:40.
Interestingly, 42% of Tinder users report being married or in a relationship.
Seventy percent of Tinder users also report having visited an online dating site in the last month.