Tinder is not unlike the grown-up’s perverse equivalent to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. With just a single swipe of the index finger you could meet your soul mate, find a warm body for the night, score a free drink or five, distract yourself from an all-consuming sense of existential dread, and more—hell, you could even catch your best friend’s cheating boyfriend red-handed.
Or! Maybe you’ll just endure a crushing blow to your self-esteem. See? The possibilities are endless.
At the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, which took place this past weekend, researchers from the University of North Texas presented a new study suggesting that people who use the popular image-based dating app tend to have lower body satisfaction and self-esteem than those who don’t. A survey of 1,317 students from two American universities found that Tinder users of both genders were more dissatisfied with their bodies, and more likely to “objectify and monitor” their appearances, than those who did not use the app, with male swipers reporting the lowest levels of self-esteem.
This study is one of the very first to initiate a deeper look into how image-based dating apps are affecting “psychological trends,” particularly among young people—but with that said, it doesn’t examine whether people with negative self-perceptions gravitate toward Tinder or if the app itself is behind the change. Clinical psychologist Lisa Orban told The Guardian, “These initial findings do alert us to a possible negative relationship between self-esteem and Tinder, and additional research is certainly warranted.”