Tinder users have reduced sensitivity to sexual disgust and take more health-related risks

People who use the mobile dating app Tinder tend to be less disgusted by sexual situations and more likely to engage in risky behaviors related to their health, according to research published in Evolutionary Psychological Science.

“I had a previous paper where my colleagues and I had found that sexual disgust was a predictor of using Tinder for casual sex. I wanted to extended my previous findings and look in to the differences between users and non-users and also explore the possible relations with risk taking,” said study author Barış Sevi of West Virginia University.

The researchers surveyed 271 U.S. adults using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. One hundred eighty-two of the participants were Tinder users.

“There are two main findings. One is people who use Tinder are people who have lower sexual disgust sensitivity and who take more risk related to their health/safety compared to non-users,” Sevi told PsyPost.

For example, Tinder users tended to rate “hearing two stranger having sex” and other sexual situations as less disgusting than non-users. Tinder users were also more likely to say they engaged in risky behaviors like unprotected sex, drinking heavily, and driving without a seatbelt.

“The second one is sexual disgust sensitivity and health/safety related risk taking propensity predict the motivation to use Tinder for casual sex. Further, these relations between Tinder use sexual disgust and health/safety risk taking operates differently according to sex,” Sevi said. In particular, the link between Tinder use and lower sexual disgust sensitivity/risk taking was stronger among female participants.

The study — like all research — includes some caveats.

“The two potential limitations are generalizability and causality issues. In this study, only an American sample was used, but Tinder is used all over the world. Future studies should investigate if there are any cross-cultural differences.”

“Secondly, the results are only correlational therefore it’s not possible to speak of any causal relationships. Studies that use longitudinal designs are needed to explore the causal relations that underlie motivations to use Tinder.”