Tinder users have a lower sense of self-worth, study says

Technically Incorrect: A new study suggests that those on the dating app don't like their faces and bodies more than others.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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What does it say about you?


Does being on Tinder say something about you?

Or is it just a natural way to meet people and enjoy a little carnal closeness once in a while?

I am moved to ask this philosophical question by a new study from the University of North Texas.

Presented at the American Psychological Association's convention in Denver this week, the study looked at Tinder users and their sense of self-worth.

The 1,044 women and 273 men (mean age 20.56) who took part were asked about their thighs, their faces and other personal essences.

The conclusions were somewhat bracing. If you're a Tinder user, that is.

The researchers found that Tinderers are thunderingly critical of themselves -- more so than those who resist this rather irresistible app.

Compared with those in the study who weren't using the app, the Tinderers were more ashamed of their bodies and showed greater dissatisfaction with their faces.

They were also more likely to obsess about how they looked.

One thing that struck the researchers was that these results weren't gender-specific. Male Tinderers were, if anything, even more likely to show a lack of self-worth than women.

These respondents were, though, on the young side. Aren't the young just generally more obsessed with their looks?

"We acknowledge that the demographics of this sample is a limitation to the study, and we noted that in the paper," researcher Jessica Strubel told me. She also said that because this is one of the first studies to "empirically study Tinder in relation to psychological outcomes," more research is needed to replicate the findings.

But what about the results concerning men? How did the researchers explain them?

"Men exhibited lower self-esteem than female users. Based on Tinder statistics, it is possible men are more affected simply because there are more of them on the app than women, which allows women to be more discerning when deciding whether to swipe right," Strubel told me.

For its part, Tinder swiped left on this study.

The company's in-house sociologist and relationship expert, Jess Carbino, told me the study has major methodological flaws. The sample of Tinder users was very small -- 102 in total -- and wasn't representative of Tinder's global participants.

"No actual findings can be established from an empirical perspective," she said. "Moreover, any serious social scientist would strongly question and doubt the validity of their results."

Some might still find the insights into male behavior fascinating.

It's well known that men tend to swipe right on many more female profiles, because they know there are more men on the app, so they have to compete hard for any attention at all.

"The increased odds of being rejected by potential connections may put men into a vulnerable position, which could then affect their self-concept," Strubel theorizes.

Tinder may be a numbers game, and where there are more numbers, there is more angst.

You'd think technology would have found a way around this pain.

Not yet, it seems.

Update, August 5 at 3:48 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Tinder.