Tinder Feeds Self-Esteem, Body Image Issues in College Kids: Study

Teenager with low self-esteem near three friends
Teenager with low self-esteem near three friends

A recent study has found that young adults using the popular dating app, Tinder, seem to have lower self-esteem and more body image troubles than those who don’t use the app. The research has not been subject to peer review publishing but was presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

The study itself had 1,044 women and 273 men, mostly college undergrads, complete questionnaires about Tinder use, body image, well-being, and sociocultural factors. About 10% of the participants reported as being users of Tinder. Both male and female users reported less satisfaction with their body image, though only male users reported lower self-esteem.

Tinder operates by showing users pictures and short bios of potential dates. Users swipe left or right on their phone screen to reject or accept the person. If both people accept, they can arrange to meet. How this rapid-fire form of evaluation plays in to self-esteem or body image problems among young adults is not understood, though considering the limitations of the study, it’s also not clear if there is actually a problem.

The study has several noticeable drawbacks, primarily the small sample size and disparity between comparing 130 Tinder users to 1,187 non-users, and this is not even counting the huge gender imbalance. While the idea of dating apps being able to have involvement in low self-esteem or body image troubles is novel, this study is really not the best way to launch into that kind of research. Hopefully, the findings will encourage others to do more thorough and reliable investigations into the future.

“Tinder: Swiping Self Esteem?” American Psychological Association web site, August 4, 2016; http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/08/tinder-self-esteem.aspx, last accessed August 5, 2016.