Dating Apps - A Psychological Perspective

The ways to date and meet people continually evolve. Times change and the era of new technologies affects people's lives. In this sense, dating apps are all the rage.
Dating Apps - A Psychological Perspective
Marián Carrero Puerto

Written and verified by the psychologist Marián Carrero Puerto.

Last update: 22 December, 2022

Who would’ve imagined that dating apps could ever be of interest to the field of psychology? However, they’ve changed the way people date and meet other people. After all, this is the era of new technologies.

It’s difficult for some people to interact with others without a computer, a mobile phone, or a dating app in between. For others, it’s just easier. And for many others, it merely means the complete establishment of the new technological era in their lives.

This is why dating apps are interesting from a psychological perspective. The way we relate to and interact with others took a huge turn a few years ago. In fact, society made a huge leap in terms of how people interacted before, how they met new people, and how they approached courting a desirable mate.

Smartphone screens are full of apps. There are many different types of available apps. A curious fact that studies reveal is that, as a rule, people don’t generally use more than six of them. This is interesting, isn’t it?

“Technology made large populations possible; now large populations make technology indispensable.”

-Joseph Wood Krutch-

A woman looking at her phone with delight.

Why are dating apps interesting to psychology?

The interest of social sciences in the role that technology plays in emotional relationships increases with their popularity.

Psychology detected the need to get involved, given the impact that dating apps have on our society and particularly in light of the data that some research provides on the subject.

A study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 27% of people in a relationship stated that the Internet has had a significant impact on their life as a couple, either positively or negatively.

The most interesting part of the study is that it stated that at least 30% of participants said they feel closer to their respective partners when they exchange text messages. In addition, many of them resolved some sort of argument in a simpler way.

However, 33% of participants said that they felt neglected because their partners spend a lot of time on their mobile devices (Lenhart & Duggan, 2014).

Relationships and technology

The use of mobile devices pertains to both the beginning and the consolidation of relationships. Regarding the beginning of a relationship, you must note the speed of dating apps based on location or micro-dates. Some of them are Tinder, Grindr, and Flirtie (Alvídrez & Rojas-Solís, 2017).

The range offered by dating apps facilitates “trial and error” encounters compared to more random or traditional ways of dating.

eHarmony, a famous online dating website, estimates that by 2040, 7 out of 10 relationships will start online and that people from ages 56 to 64 years will be the ones to use this type of service the most (Alvídrez & Rojas-Solís, 2017).

Who’s more likely to use dating apps?

The simple profiles on Tinder, for example, indicate that the most sociable and impulsive people with a constant need to experience new emotions are the most likely to engage in casual sexual encounters (Carpenter & McEwan, 2016).

Likewise, Carpenter and McEwan (2016) highlight that socio-sexual orientation is another possible moderator of these meetings: “People with greater self-restriction in terms of sexual relations prefer to have intimate dates only with people they have a stable relationship with”. Likewise, users without such restrictions are more likely to have casual relationships with sexually attractive people without seeking a long-term commitment.

A man reading something pleasant on his phone.

The ways of flirting change with technology

Some people may ask themselves how an app can know more about themselves than any other person in their environment. No one’s really exempt and everyone most likely knows someone who uses dating apps. Perhaps even you did it and it led you to a stable relationship. The ways in which people date have changed, as has the environment and the possibilities.

With dating apps, people can view many photos and profiles of various users, almost as many as you want to look at. All you have to do is take a look at them and swipe right to accept or left to dismiss. Although people used to meet at school, work, and social circles, now one finger is all you need.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Alvídrez, S., & Rojas-Solís, J. L. (2017). Los amantes en la época del smartphone: aspectos comunicativos y psicológicos relativos al inicio y mantenimiento de la relación romántica. Global Media Journal14(27), 1-18.

  • Canseco, E. G. El modelo de educación sexual trasmitido por las aplicaciones para ligar en 2017. Comunicación y desarrollo en la Sociedad Digital: nuevos discursos y viejos valores del poder cultural.

  • Carpenter, C.J. & McEwan, B. (2016). The players of micro-dating: Individual and gender differences
    in goal orientations toward micro-dating apps. First Monday, 21(5), 1-13.

  • eHarmony (2014, mayo). The Future of dating. A study of trends in relationship formation in the UK
    1996-2040. Future Foundation.

  • Lenhart, A., & Duggan, M. (2014, febrero) Couples, the Internet, and social media: How American
    couples use digital technology to manage life, logistics, and emotional intimacy within their
    relationships. Pew Research Center.

  • Liébana Morcillo, C. (2015). El Appmor: El fin del cara a cara en las relaciones personales.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.