Due to coronavirus affecting the entire globe, there was a surge of persons suffering from depression and anxiety – what many experts have called the silent pandemic. In a recent study, researchers assessed the link between dating apps and depression and anxiety, mostly affecting women.
The study was recently published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Researchers from Ryerson University in Canada analyzed symptoms of social anxiety and the use, motivation, and interaction associated with dating apps.
Social anxiety and depression have affected people developing intimate relationships and the chances of getting involved in a romantic relationship, wrote the authors. Socially anxious people also tend to avoid asking others out on dates, fearing that they will be rejected or be negatively evaluated.
Looking For Social Connections
Women with increased symptoms of depression and social anxiety were most likely to turn to technology for social connection, explained the authors. Looking for social connections through dating apps increased when social contact was reduced due to avoidance. On the other hand, men with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety avoided initiating contact with people they matched with on dating apps.
“With mobile dating apps increasingly figuring into today’s dating landscape, research studies such as Professor Antony’s are vital to understanding their merits as well as their shortcomings,” said Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold from the California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute.
Those who had anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure psychologically, associated with depression also struggle with meeting dating partners via social outings or set-ups. The rising popularity of dating apps in recent years have given people with social anxiety or depression a new platform to establish intimate relationships, which they typically struggle with.
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Depression, Social Anxiety, and Dating Apps
Previous studies have assessed the motivations that the app Tinder uses, including love, casual sex, self-worth validation, and thrill of excitement, or the Tinder Motivations Scale. The effect of these motivations was then compared between men and women.
Next, the team assessed how far people with elevated levels of depression or social anxiety would have actual social interactions with those they matched with. It was observed that depressed people were passive when using a social networking platform or did not participate in active engagement online.
Participants were recruited using the Mechanical Turk by Amazon. The volunteers then took the Social Phobia Inventory, a questionnaire that assesses anxiety in recent social situations. They were also tested for depression using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale while the Online Dating Inventory evaluated their online dating site use.
Women unlikely to initiate contact regardless of depression symptoms were “in line with traditional gender roles in dating and courtship, according to which men are expected to be more active and assertive,” explained the authors. On the other hand, men who avoided initiating conversations with matches suggested that using dating apps fail in “circumventing barriers to relationship initiation.”
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