Tinder users are more body-conscious, study shows

Many studies have found that people who are active on social media appear to be more critical of their bodies. Now, a new study concludes that Tinder users have similar negative views about their appearance.

Tinder users have lower self- esteem and more negative views of their bodies than those who do not use the popular dating app, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention last week.

"The women and men who used Tinder reported higher levels of self-objectification and monitoring of their appearance, as well as more dissatisfaction and shame related to their bodies, than those who were not users," the study found.

The study was conducted by Assistant Professor Jessica Strubel and Professor Trent Petrie at the University of North Texas, with1,044 female and 273 male undergraduate and graduate students. The average age of respondents was 20.6. About 10 per cent of the participants were Tinder users.

"We found that being actively involved with Tinder, regardless of the user's gender, was associated with body dissatisfaction, body shame, body monitoring, internalisation of societal expectations of beauty, comparing oneself physically with others, and reliance on media for information on appearance and attractiveness," Prof Strubel said of her research.

Although the study found that body consciousness was felt by men and women, it was men's self-esteem that took a harder hit from using the dating app. This could be partly due to the fact that there are more men than women on Tinder.

"Men have been found to 'right swipe' 46 per cent of their matches compared with women, who do so only 14 per cent of the time," the study noted. This gender imbalance could lead heterosexual men to "believe they need to 'right swipe' with high frequency to increase their chances of finding someone who might like them in return".

By swiping right (or "yes, I'm interested") more often, men set themselves up for frequent rejection.

"Even for men with generally high levels of esteem, the current Tinder system does not appear to work in their favour and may result in a diminished sense of self after repeated use," the study concluded.

Tinder creates a dynamic in which women and men are judged on their appearance, something women may be more accustomed to than men.

"Tinder may have evened the playing field," the researchers noted, when it comes to being objectified and experiencing body shame and dissatisfaction.

Although Tinder users tended to have lower self-esteem, the researchers pointed out that correlation does not imply causation.

"It could be just as likely that people with lower self-esteem are drawn more to these types of apps," they noted in a news release about their study.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'Tinder users are more body-conscious, study shows'. Print Edition | Subscribe