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Need Cupid? There’s an App For That…

It goes without saying that in today’s world, we as a population are growing more and more connected to our smartphones and further leveraging them to accomplish both our short-term to-dos as well as our long-term aspirations. With our social media channels at our fingertips, we can browse through photos of friends and family on Instagram, apply to a new job through LinkedIn and even find the loves of our lives via dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and more. Our online experiences have drastically changed the way we live out our offline lives — and for those who haven’t been lucky with love in “real life” can now dive into apps designed to connect them with a real match…or perhaps just a hook-up depending on what the user desires. The following articles study how dating apps and online dating have shifted the way we pursue and view romance.

#1 Love at first swipe? Explaining Tinder self-presentation and motives

One of the most popular dating apps today, Tinder was the catalyst for location-based real-time dating (LBRTD) -- enabling users to find potential romantic matches geographically close to them. The authors, Giulia Ranzina and Christoph Lutz, cite Sales to note that this feature “has reinforced the perception of LBRTD as the cradle of casual, sexual and short-lived relationships … [and that] media have further strengthened the idea” (as cited in Ranzini & Lutz, p. 81). This study examines Tinder’s four communicative affordances (portability, availability, locatability and multimediality); components including impression management (online and offline), gender (i.e., how men and women present themselves differently) and personality (e.g., self-esteem); and how user factors such as authentic presentation, motives for being on Tinder, demographics and psychographics all relate to each other.

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#2 The Significance of Written Responses as a Nonverbal Cue that Contributes to Online Young Adult Relationship Initiation

Let’s face it -- the majority of adolescents today are “digital natives,” living lives seamlessly integrated with multiple social media platforms. This study examines their use of online dating services and applications through a few valuable lenses: how friendships can develop online and may transform into romantic relationships offline, the “risk” one is willing to take to open him- or herself to rejection (i.e., how much information he or she reveals through both conversations and his or her personal profile) and paralanguage. The study surveyed adolescents who currently have or have had at least one online romantic relationship, and it found that survey participants 1) understand online dating, 2) view content in personal profiles as important for evaluating relationship potential and 3) value nonverbal cues (i.e., paralanguage) as insights into relationship potential.

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#3 Attached to dating apps: Attachment orientations and preferences

Full article title: "Attached to dating apps: Attachment orientations and preferences for dating apps"

Published in 2018, this study explores the psychological model of attachment theory and how individuals’ attachment orientations (i.e., their comfort level with closeness and intimacy) relates to their use of/preferences on dating apps. It distinguishes between online dating platforms and dating apps -- acknowledging apps’ prominence, simplicity and primarily visual interfaces -- as well as different dating apps themselves (e.g., Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid) and their different primary use cases (i.e., hook ups versus long-term relationships).

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#4 Is online better than offline for meeting partners? Depends: are you looking to marry or to date?

Many online dating platforms tout statistics that suggest couples who met online are more satisfied in their relationships, but the author of this study, Aditi Paul, PhD, believes those statistics are flawed, too narrow and don’t accurately measure “satisfaction” or what success means/looks like in a relationship. To conduct a more thorough approach to her research, Paul explored “(a) the different types of relationships being formed as a result of meeting partner online versus offline, (b) the differences in relationship dissolution as a function of relationship type and meeting venue, and (c) factors outside of meeting online or offline that can explain relationship dissolution” (Paul, 2014, p. 665).

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#5 ‘Bitch I Said Hi’: The Bye Felipe Campaign and Discursive Activism in Mobile Dating Apps

Written in 2016 before the #MeToo movement, this article focuses on the Bye Felipe feminist campaign on Instagram, which predominantly shares screenshots of inappropriate and derogatory content (i.e., sexual harassment in the form of photos and messages) women have received from “sexually entitled” men on online dating platforms. The campaign often incorporates a sassy and humorous tone, and the author, Frances Shaw, cites Tweten to note that it likely “uses humor to take some of the seriousness away from these messages … and [create] a sense of safety in numbers” (as cited in Shaw, 2016, p. 5-6). Taking an in-depth look at the campaign, Shaw further explores the “feminist response,” how it brings cases of sexual harassment into the light and the effectiveness (and ethics) of this public-shaming retaliative effort.

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#6 Up-Dating: Ratings of Perceived Dating Success Are Better Online than Offline

First impressions are undeniably important in any kind of meeting context, but they’re particularly important when it comes to dating. With appearance perhaps playing the most vital role, individuals want to present themselves in the most attractive ways possible, which is a far easier task on the Internet. However, with the intention of finding a match online to then physically meet and begin a relationship with in real life, the author states that “online daters have to walk a fine line between presenting an attractive and idealized online self (i.e., to attract potential dates) … [and simultaneously] reflecting an authentic version of the self in expectation of seeking a serious romantic connection offline” (Fullwood & Attrill-Smith, 2018, p. 12). This study, as its title suggests, examines perceived dating success and how one’s self-esteem relates to how attractive others actually perceive him or her to be.

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#7 Preference Versus Choice in Online Dating

A lyric from the popular Stephen Sondheim musical entitled Into the Woods incorporates the lyric, “when you know what you want then you go and you find it and you get it.” But does that lyric/logic apply to online dating? Examining the decision-making aspects of this digital pursuit, the authors of this study, Stephen Whyte, MBR, and Benno Torgler, PhD, state that “dating participants’ actions may be somewhat contrary to their original stated preference” and that “[e]xploring the progression employed between what humans say they want and what they actually choose is of critical importance for behavioral science” (Whyte & Torgler, 2017, p. 151). Focusing on the Australian dating website RSVP, this study explores multiple characteristics revealed in dating profiles, dating participants’ identified preferences of these characteristics for their ideal matches and whether those stated preferences align with participants’ actual choices.

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