Personality and online dating: Who does it and why?

Tinder, the online dating app. Try to find a student that has not used it – it won’t be easy. Although the app is “relatively” new, it has already become a normality in the dating life of the single, emerging adult. Previously we discussed what your social media says about your personality, but what can we say about online dating?

Who uses Tinder?

That’s what Timmermans and De Caluwé (2017) wanted to know as well. Specifically, they wanted to know how individuals that use Tinder differ from individuals that do not use the online dating app. In addition, they wanted to know whether the motives to use Tinder differ among online daters.

For their study, Timmermans and De Caluwé recruited 502 respondents in Belgium by spreading the link to their online survey both online (through their website and social media) and offline (through local and national newspapers). The sample consisted of 378 singles that were currently using Tinder and 124 singles who had never used the app. The average age was 23 years old with ages ranging from 18 to 29 years old. Most respondents were student (70.3%). There was a wide variation in personality traits among the respondents; scores on the Big Five traits (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) ranged from 1.58 to 4.63 (on a scale of 1 to 5).

Why would you use Tinder?

To measure motives behind using Tinder, the respondents completed the Tinder Motives Scale (TMS) which consists of 58 items and distinguishes 13 different motives to use the app. Recognize any of the following motives for yourself?

1. For social approval
2. To pass time/entertainment
3. To meet people while travelling
4. For sexual experience
5. To get over an ex
6. Feel belongingness
7. Relationship seeking
8. To practice flirting/social skills
9. For sexual orientation
10. To socialize
11. Due to peer pressure
12. To seek distraction
13. Out of curiosity

What we expected
Based on previous studies regarding personality differences and social networking sites, the following associations were expected:

  • Openness will be positively associated with using Tinder to socialize, to meet people with travelling and with using Tinder out of Curiosity. It will be negatively associated with using Tinder because everyone does (i.e., Belongingness).
  • Conscientiousness will be negatively associated with using Tinder to pass time/as entertainment and for distraction.
  • Extraversion will be negatively associated with using Tinder to seek a relationship, to socialize and to practice flirting/social skills. It will be positively association with using Tinder to have casual sex.
  • Agreeableness will be positively associated with using Tinder due to peer pressure. It will be negatively related to gain sexual experiences.
  • Neuroticism will be positively associated with using Tinder for social approval, to get over an ex and to gain sexual experiences.

Results

A t-test was performed to examine whether the group of online daters differed significantly on personality traits from the group who has not used Tinder. Timmermans and De Caluwé found that Tinder users scored significantly higher on extraversion and openness to experience and significantly lower on conscientiousness.

To test the motives among Tinder users, hierarchical regression were run: Individuals who scored higher on openness to experience were indeed more likely to use Tinder to meet people while travelling. However, they were not more likely to use the app to socialize, out of curiosity or to feel belongingness.

As expected, individuals scoring higher on conscientiousness were more likely to use Tinder to seek a relationship, but not to pass the time/as entertainment or distraction. Extraverted individuals, on the other hand, were more likely to use Tinder to pass the time or as entertainment. They do not tend to use Tinder to seek a relationship or practice flirting/social skills. Despite expectations, extraversion was not associated with socializing motives or using Tinder for sexual experiences.

Individuals scoring higher on agreeableness were indeed less likely to use Tinder to gain sexual experiences. Although expected, it was not found that agreeableness was significantly associated with using Tinder out of peer pressure.

At last, neuroticism was positively associated with using Tinder for social approval and to get over an ex. However, neuroticism was not significantly associated with the sexual experience motive.

Conclusion

Based on the study by Timmerman and De Caluwé we can conclude that Tinder users tend to score higher on extraversion and openness to experience, whereas non-Tinder users are likely to be more conscientious. Furthermore, the findings suggest that personality traits are related to motives individuals have to date online. More research is needed to explore the nature of the relationship between personality traits and motives!

Do you think that it is possible that personality traits have a causal influence on motives behind online dating? For instance, because you are more neurotic, you are more likely to use Tinder to get over an ex? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


If you are interested in reading the literature used for this post, references and links are provided here:
Timmermans, E., & De Caluwé, E. (2017). To Tinder or not to Tinder, that’s the question: An individual differences perspective to Tinder use and motives. Personality and Individual Differences110, 74-79.
If you are interested in reading more about the impact of social media and online dating possibilities on our relationships, check out Timmermans’ website: http://www.liefdeintijdenvantinder.be/en/
image derived from https://www.ft.com/content/31bcc2a6-5e41-11e9-b285-3acd5d43599e

 

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