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A new study under review for publication suggests that Tinder might be a negative experience for men in particular. Research presented this week at the 2016 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association found that college-aged male Tinder users were more likely to have low self-esteem than their peers who did not use the dating app.
“Tinder is a reputed ‘hook-up’ site for its 50 million active users where men and women are simply objects to be viewed, rated, used, and disposed of in the Tinder universe,” the authors wrote in their paper.
Their data seems to support that statement. They surveyed more than 1,000 college-aged men and women, though only around 100 of them were actual Tinder users at the time. Compared to their peers, men and women who used Tinder were more likely to think about their bodies as “viewed from an outsider’s perspective.” They were also more likely to have lower opinions of their faces and bodies.
Self-esteem was the only area where researchers noticed a difference between male and female Tinder users. Male users were more likely to have low self-esteem than their female peers.
“Consistent with our other findings, using Tinder was associated with more distress, but particularly for men. The shame and hurt men experience as a result of rejection and ‘ghosting’ … is a common discussion theme on other social media platforms, such as Reddit,” the authors wrote.
They postulated that the two-to-one male-to-female ratio might contribute. Men who are on Tinder might feel greater pressure to swipe right on a higher number of potential matches to cast a wider net. When those matches don’t pan out, it may have a negative effect on their self-esteem.
That said, the study only had a very small sample size of people to work with—only 70 women and 32 men in the sample were on Tinder. The study also can’t determine a cause-and-effect relationship. Men with low self-esteem, for example, might be more drawn to Tinder for reasons the study didn’t determine.
Tinder agrees the methodology might be flawed, but takes a more dismissive stance on the findings. “Given the small sample size and unrepresentative nature of the sample, no actual findings can be established from an empirical perspective,” Tinder’s in-house sociologist and relationship expert, Jess Carbino, told the Daily Dot in a statement. “Moreover, any serious social scientist would strongly question and doubt the validity of their results.”
So take the study with a grain of salt. But before you turn to Tinder for your next date, be sure you would swipe right on yourself first.
Update 12:42pm CT, August 5: Includes statement from Tinder.
Cynthia McKelvey covered the health and science for the Daily Dot until 2017. She earned a graduate degree in science communication from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2014. Her work has appeared in Gizmodo, Scientific American Mind, and Mic.com.