Applied Psychology students of Thomas More University of Applied Sciences and international Erasmus students wrote blog posts on psychology & technology. You can read the three best posts here: on the blue whale challenge, nomophobia, and online dating.
by Helena Jegers & Irem Alpay
The desire to find true love, the perfect match, or simply a lover have been one of the concerns for almost all of the humankind. Under the exposure of love and widely spread of the internet, people have found another way to start a courtship: online dating. Online dating is popular due to the fact that (1) meeting people who are like yourself is easier as compared to meeting them in real life and the physical contact is irrelevant on the Internet; (2) online dating can be done without the help from surroundings (e.g., friends, family); and (3) self-disclosure is enhanced without the disruptions of visual and auditory cues (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). Moreover, Valkenburg and Peter (2007) stated that the online communication occurs with anticipation for future interaction, which may have an impact on relationship formation and results in deep communication between the online dating participants. Further, Finkel et al. (2012) suggested that the widespread use of internet made it possible for online dating participants to access a broader area, where people live far and may have been unknown and inaccessible. Another statement by the authors is that the matching processes in online dating are based on the one’s personal beliefs and thoughts, out of the data of the fittest for their own, provided by millions of users. The authors also claimed that the internet is a great tool for partners who are not in the same location but can share multiple channels (e.g., texting, audio messages). One may suggest that the process of “being matched” with one click can be a better choice than actually going out and spending more time for uncertain events of the chain. In the end, online dating has been an alternative for all ages around the globe for a while now
What are the advantages and disadvantages of online dating?
As almost everything in the world has up and downsides, online dating also has benefits and drawbacks. In the study of Finkel et al. in 2012 (cited in Wiederhold 2015), the advantages were pointed out. First, the authors mentioned that the opportunities to find a potential partner are higher than in general. Secondly, the contact between the matched ones would be in a nonthreatening way due to the setting (Finkel et al., cited in Wiederhold 2015). The authors stated the last advantage as the possibility of screening who may not be a good potential partner for the user. For the risky side of online dating, three main points were mentioned by the same authors: (1) objectifying choices of potential partners may result in unwillingness to commit to one only, (2) excessive amounts of matched people would lead to uninformed and lazy decisions, and (3) the users may delay the face-to-face contact for too long and might end up misinterpreting each other’s texts, emails, and more as well as rejecting to meet in real life at all. To conclude, in another study of Finkel et al. in 2015 (cited in Wiederhold, 2015), it was stated that the reality check with all observable cues before the start of an intimate relationship is crucial because of a lower risk of misinterpretation when meeting online dating participants in real life as compared to just the online setting.
What is the link between online dating and #mentalhealth?
Compared to computer-based online dating websites, Tinder is a smartphone-based application for the same purpose. The process of matching is different than that of the websites in terms of swiping left or right when you are searching for the potential partners or one-time hook ups. This different approach of Tinder may lead to feelings of being depersonalized and disposable during social interactions and increased consciousness of self (American Psychological Association, 2016). As mentioned in this press release, according to study of Strübel and Petrie, Tinder users are less satisfied with their body and have lower self-worth rates compared to non-users. The authors also mentioned self-esteem issues among Tinder users, although the app may not be the only problem leading to it (American Psychological Association, 2016).
Another problem related to the link between online dating and mental health was mentioned by Valkenburg and Peter (2007). Regardless of the gender of the users, people who score low in dating anxiety are more likely to use online dating websites compared to those who communicate less frequently with others. One may suggest that the likelihood of the extraverted being an online dating participant is higher as compared to the introverted.
Finally, the self-presentation seems to differ on the internet. In other words, as opposed to female participants, male users of online dating in an email setting are more likely to exaggerate their personality traits and attractiveness in terms of physical appearance (Guadagno, Okdie & Kruse, 2011). Furthermore, the authors stated that, when expecting a date in real life, participants presented with lower scores in neuroticism resulting in offering a kinder profile of oneself and seeming an emotionally stable potential partner.
How does online dating work? #matchmaker
The Internet is a new social institution that has the ability to connect people who have never met face to face and is thus likely to transform the dating process (Baym, 2000).
In many cultures, the first date is mostly about two people who meet each other and who are romantically interested in each other. On the first date you spend time together and share personal information. As technology progressed, those seeking love or companionship could create ads via smart phone, television or computers. Eventually photographs were added, and the image replaced written descriptions of physical appearance. Then internet dating came along.
The strategy of online dating is the same: self-present in a way that makes you attractive to others. Once the connection is made and you decided to give it a shot, the first thing you need to do is create your profile. When you first arrive at an online dating site, you can browse through profiles without entering any information about yourself. Sometimes you need to pay to see the picture of another person. So these photos might not be displayed unless you have paid membership.
When it’s time to make your own profile, the dating sites will ask some basic information. Are you a man or a woman? Who are you looking for or what are your interests? Your age, place to live … Basic information may also include your birthdate and a valid e-mail address. The administrators from the site will communicate with you through your email address. Indicating your physical attributes is usually the next step. Height, weight, hair and eye color are common pieces of data. Next, you’ll be asked to answer many of these same questions a second time, but instead of indicating your own traits, you’ll be describing your ideal date. The site will then use this information and the information you provided about yourself to find suitable matches that you might want to contact.
From this moment, you can start connecting with other users if their profile appeals to you. Most of the time these messages are just simple because you will already have a lot of information on your own profile about yourself. You might send messages to a lot of different people and not always get an answer back. From that moment you just start connecting to people and wait for someone to reply.
Which apps do we use and which ones are the most common ones? #datingapps
In recent years, a variety of technologies have been developed to help people find potential partners. First of all, there is a difference between social dating apps and online dating agencies. Online Dating Agencies offer a service that assesses their users’ expectations of a potential partner in order to create matches with users who share these expectations. People who use these agencies are most likely adults over 25 who want to engage in a serious relationship and are willing to pay for the service. (Singleboersen-vergleich, 2014). Social-Dating Apps, such as Tinder, on the other hand, do not require a fee and work somewhat differently.
Tinder is currently considered to be the most popular dating app for iOS and Android with at least 10 million active users each day (Ayers, 2014; Freier, 2015) Although Tinder was initially introduced as a general dating app (Bosker, 2013), it has also been called the hook-up or sex-app (Ayers, 2014; Sales, 2015; Thompson, 2015). Tinder is one of the first dating apps that is specifically designed as a smartphone application rather than an extension of an existing dating website.
Another study of Smith and Duggan (2013) presented online daters with an open-ended follow-up question asking which particular dating site(s) they have used. Match.com was the most-mentioned site in both of their studies. The first study was in 2005 and the second study was in 2013. eHarmony also ranked highly in both 2005 and 2013. The five sites with the most mentions in each year are listed below.
There hasn’t been a lot of research into the most common dating apps. Overall we see that match.com is the most popular among the Americans. We also see that Tinder is a popular dating app among all people.
Who uses online dating? What motivates them? #what makes you click?
Globally, approximately 16% of the world’s population has access to the internet (Internet World Stats 2006). There are still lots of people today who don’t really understand why someone would want to find a romantic partner online. 23% of Americans agree with the statement that “people who use online dating sites are desperate”—but in general it is much more culturally acceptable than it was just eight years ago (Smith & Duggan, 2013).
People who are high in sociability and low in dating anxiety were more active in the online dating world (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). People who engage in more sexually risky behaviors are also more likely to participate in online dating (Couch & Liamputtong, 2007). So individuals who are already skilled interpersonally are more likely to take advantage of this new avenue for meeting romantic partners (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007).
However, not only people who have anxiety but also people who just don’t have the time use online dating, most likely people who have a career or single parents. As we look in general, study showed that nearly half of single internet users (43%) reported having visited a dating site to get a date of to find a romantic partner (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). We also see that males are more likely to use online dating then females. In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20’s through mid-40’s. But older people are much likely to use online dating as younger people. In fact, we see that people around 40 years of age are the most active online daters.
A plausible explanation for this age effect is that it is relatively difficult for people of this age group to find a romantic partner via more traditional strategies. They are often divorced and often have to combine children with a busy career. People who got divorced are more likely to use online dating too. We also see that the biggest predictors of using online dating are being single and being an internet user (Sautter, Tippett, & Morgan, 2010). This is another explanation why divorced older people are more likely to do online dating.
What might be interesting is that study has shown that extraversion, openness to experience, and neuroticism positively predict social networking site use (Correa, Hinsley, & de Zuniga, 2010; Ross et al., 2009; Zywica & Danowski, 2008). According to this study is extraversion the strongest predictor of social networking site use.
In summary: #Onlinedating is where #love and #technology meet. A lot of #datingwebsites and #datingapps are now trending for #hookups and, if you are lucky enough, for #love!
American Psychological Association Public Affairs (2016). Tinder: Swiping Self Esteem? Retrieved December 29, 2019, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/08/tinder-self-esteem
Couch, D., & Liamputtong, P. (2008). Online dating and mating: The use of the internet to meet sexual partners. Qualitative Health Research, 18(2), 268-279. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1049732307312832
Finkel, E. J. Eastwick P. W. Karney B.R. Reis, H. T. & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 13(1) 3-66, https://doi.org/10.1177/15291006124336522
Guadagno, R. E. Okdie, B. M. & Kruse, S. A. (2011). Dating deception: Gender, online dating, and exaggerated self-presentation. Computers in Human Behavior. 28, 642-647. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2011.11.010
Smith, A. W., & Duggan, M. (2013). Online dating & relationship. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/10/21/online-dating-relationships/
Valkenburg, P. M. Peter, J. P. (2007). Who Visits Online Dating Sites? Exploring Some Characteristics of Online Daters. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(6), 849-852. https://10.1089/cpb.2007.9941
Wiederhold, B. K. (2015). Twenty Years of Online Dating: Current Psychology and Future Prospects. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 18(12). https://10.1089/cyber.2015.29017.bkw
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