People on dating apps are more likely to exhibit dark personality traits | #tinder | #pof

According to a new study, people on dating apps are more likely to be self-obsessed and manipulative than the general public — which fits very well with previous research.

The unattractive side of dating apps

With the advent of smartphones and our always busier lives, the dating scene has change considerably in the past decade; or at least, a part of it has.

Dating apps have become common in many parts of the world, and dating on an app isn’t the same as doing it the old fashioned way. For starters, you can reach numerous potential partners, but you have limited ways to grab their attention. Simply put, you need to play the market to increase your chances of being successful, and in this context, playing the market often goes hand in hand with traits such as narcissism, a new study concludes.

A team of researchers from the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, analyzed how so-called bright, dark, and neutral personality traits correlate with dating app usage. They found that dark traits such as narcissism and Machiavelism (a scheming, self-interested attitude) are indicative of a person’s app usage much more than neutral traits such as openness or extraversion or bright traits like empathy.

They had 555 German volunteers use 3 popular dating apps for three weeks, tracing the time they spent on these apps. The volunteers were then asked to fill personality quizzes to see how different personality traits correlated with the time spent on the apps. Overall, narcissism was the strongest predictor of whether someone used an online dating app, while Machiavellianism was the best predictor of average daily usage — not exactly an attractive picture.

The silver lining was that “love” was the strongest motive for using the app, closely followed by “sex”. The relationship status was not considered in the study.

Not surprising

While this was a relatively small and localized study, it falls in line very well with previous research. For instance, a 2019 study from Australia found that “men who were Tinder users were especially high in psychopathy and narcissism” and “women who were Tinder users were especially high in anxious attachment”. A separate study from the same year concluded that Tinder users had higher scores on the Dark Triad traits.

As dating apps become more and more prevalent, researchers are increasingly looking at their effect on mental health. A recent 2016 study found that using dating apps tends to lower self-esteem, and if dating apps are fertile ground for noxious personality traits, it could explain why.

The study has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.


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