Researchers investigate how dating app users make 'swipe right' decisions in a matter of seconds | Inquirer Technology

Researchers investigate how dating app users make ‘swipe right’ decisions in a matter of seconds

/ 12:15 PM March 10, 2021
Online dating app in smartphone

Image: Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images via ETX Studio

A glance at the profile, a quick look at the photo then swipe left if you’re not interested, all in the space of just a few seconds. Anyone who has surfed on dating apps will probably recognize this process. But what’s happening in our brains when we’re deciding whether a profile is worth pursuing or not?

Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Maryland in the United States set out to explore the underlying factors at play when people make these ultra-fast decisions. To do this, the study authors carried out two experiments. The first focused on college students, while the second focused on adults averaging 35 years old. Participants could choose to either view profiles of men or women, depending on their dating preferences.


According to their findings, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, two key criteria appear to influence people’s selection of unknown potential love interests on dating apps.

Unsurprisingly, the first is based on the photo and the physical attraction felt towards a person.
The second criteria proved more surprising. According to the study, people tended (with varying degrees of consciousness) to choose people similar to themselves, more precisely, people with the same ethnic origin or skin color.


“Also surprising was just how little everything beyond attractiveness and race mattered for swiping behavior, your personality didn’t seem to matter, how open you were to hook-ups didn’t matter, or even your style for how you approach relationships or if you were looking short- or long-term didn’t matter,” explain the study authors.

These results are even more surprising since they may convey certain discriminations: “profiles of users of color were rejected more often than those of white users,” the researchers note.

The researchers also observed that male participants, on average, swiped right more often than women. They also found that individuals who perceive themselves to be more attractive swipe left more often overall, proving pickier when it comes to selecting potential partners. JB


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TOPICS: Behavior, dating, dating apps, Online dating, Research
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