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The emergence and popularization of dating apps have changed the way people meet and interact with potential romantic and sexual partners. In parallel with the increased use of these applications, a remarkable scientific literature has developed. However, due to the recency of the phenomenon, some gaps in the existing research can be expected. Therefore, the objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the empirical research of the psychosocial content published in the last five years — on dating apps. A search was conducted in different databases, and we identified articles in our initial search.
After screening titles and abstracts and examining articles in detail, 70 studies were included in the review. The limitations of the literature consulted are discussed, as well as the practical implications of the obtained, highlighting the relevance of dating apps, which have become a tool widely used by millions of people around the world.
In the last decade, the popularization of the Internet and the use of the smartphone and the emergence of real-time location-based dating apps e.
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It is difficult to know reliably how many users currently make use of dating apps, due to the secrecy of the developer companies. However, thanks to the information provided by different reports and studies, the magnitude of the phenomenon can be seen online. For example, the Statista Market Forecast [ 5 ] portal estimated that by the end ofthere were more than million active users of dating apps worldwide.
It has been noted that more than ten million people use Tinder daily, which has been downloaded more than a hundred million times worldwide [ 67 ]. Some theoretical reviews related to users and uses of dating apps have been published, although they have focused on specific groups, such as men who have sex with men MSM [ 1011 ] or on certain risks, such as aggression and abuse through apps [ 12 ].
Anzani et al.
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However, this is not a systematic review of the of studies published up to that point and it leaves out some relevant aspects that have received considerable research attention, such as the reasons for use of dating apps, or their associated advantages and risks. Thus, we find a recent and changing object of study, which has achieved great social relevance in recent years and whose impact on research has not been adequately studied and evaluated so far. Therefore, the objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the empirical research of psychosocial content published in the last five years — on dating apps.
By doing so, we intend to assess the state of the literature in terms of several relevant aspects i. Practical implications will be highlighted. However, it should be noted that, as the objective of this study was to provide a state of the art view of the published literature on dating apps in the last five years and without statistical data processing, there are several principles included in the PRISMA that could not be met e.
However, following the advice of the developers of these guidelines concerning the specific nature of systematic reviews, the procedure followed has been described in a clear, precise, and replicable manner [ 13 ]. The selection criteria in this systematic review were established and agreed on by the two authors of this study.
The database search was carried out by one researcher. In case of doubt about whether or not a study should be included in the review, consultation occurred and the decision was agreed upon by the two researchers. Four-hundred and ninety-three were located, to which were added 15 documents that were found through other resources e.
After these documents were reviewed and the duplicates removed, a total of records remained, as shown by the flowchart presented in Figure 1.
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Thus, the process of refining thewhich can be viewed graphically in Figure 1was as follows. This process led to a final sample of 70 empirical studies 55 quantitative studies, 11 qualitative studies, and 4 mixed studiesas shown by the flowchart presented in Figure 1. One review author extracted the data from the included studies, and the second author checked the extracted data. Table 1 shows the information extracted from each of the articles included in this systematic review.
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The main findings drawn from these studies are also presented below, distributed in different sections. First, the characteristics of the 70 articles included in the systematic review were analyzed. An annual increase in production can be seen, with being the most productive year, with More articles 11 were published in the first three months of than in It is curious to note, on the other hand, how, in the titles of the articles, some similar formulas were repeated, even the same articles e.
As for the methodology used, the first aspect to note is that all the localized studies were cross-sectional and there were no longitudinal ones. And 5. The studies included in the review were conducted in different geographical and cultural contexts. More than one in five investigations was conducted in the United States However, Finally, The of these studies showed that Tinder was the most used dating app among heterosexual people and Grindr among sexual minorities.
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It is difficult to find studies that offer an overall user profile of dating apps, as many of them have focused on specific populations or groups. However, based on the information collected in the studies included in this review, some features of the users of these applications may be highlighted. Traditionally, it has been claimed that men use dating apps more than women and that they engage in more casual sex relationships through apps [ 3 ]. In fact, some authors, such as Weiser et al.
Some current studies endorse that being male predicts the use of dating apps [ 23 ], but research has also been published in recent years that has shown no differences in the proportion of male and female users [ 5968 ]. To explain these similar prevalence rates, some authors, such as Chan [ 27 ], have proposed a feminist perspective, stating that women use dating apps to gain greater control over their relationships and sexuality, thus countering structural gender inequality.
On the other hand, other authors have referred to the perpetuation of traditional masculinity and femmephobic language in these applications [ 2853 ]. Specific studies have been conducted on people of different ages: adolescents [ 49 ], young people e. The most studied group has been young people between 18 and 30 years old, mainly university students, and some authors have concluded that the age subgroup with a higher prevalence of use of dating apps is between 24 and 30 years of age [ 4459 ].
Sexual orientation. This is a fundamental variable in research on dating apps. In recent years, especially after the success of Tinder, the use of these applications by heterosexuals, both men and women, has increased, which has affected the increase of research on this group [ 359 ]. However, the most studied group with the highest prevalence rates of dating apps use is that of men from sexual minorities [ 1840 ].
There is considerable literature on this collective, both among adolescents [ 49 ], young people [ 18 ], and older people [ 58 ], in different geographical contexts and both in urban and rural areas [ 24364379 ]. Moreover, being a member of a sexual minority, especially among men, seems to be a good predictor of the use of dating apps [ 23 ]. There is much less research on non-heterosexual women and this focuses precisely on their need to reaffirm their own identity and discourse, against the traditional values of hetero-patriate societies [ 3569 ].
It has traditionally been argued that the prevalence of the use of dating apps was much higher among singles than among those with a partner [ 72 ]. This remains the case, as some studies have shown that being single was the most powerful sociodemographic predictor of using these applications [ 23 ]. From what has been studied, usually aimed at evaluating infidelity [ 1775 ], the reasons for using Tinder are very different depending on the relational state, and the users of this app who had a partner had had more sexual and romantic partners than the singles who used it [ 72 ]. Other sociodemographic variables.
Some studies, such as the one of Shapiro et al. However, most studies that contemplated this variable have focused on university students see, for example [ 21233138 ]so there may be a bias in the interpretation of their. The findings of Shapiro et al.
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Another striking result about the educational level is that of the study of Neyt et al. These authors found a heterogeneous effect of educational level by gender: whereas women preferred a potential male partner with a high educational level, this hypothesis was not refuted in men, who preferred female partners with lower educational levels.
Other variables evaluated in the literature on dating apps are place of residence or income level.
As for the former, app users tend to live in urban contexts, so studies are usually performed in large cities e. It has also been shown that dating app users have a higher income level than non-users, although this can be understood as a feature associated with young people with high educational levels. However, it seems that the use of these applications is present in all social layers, as it has been documented even among homeless youth in the United States [ 66 ]. Personality and other psychosocial variables. The literature that relates the use of dating apps to different psychosocial variables is increasingly extensive and diverse.
The most evaluated variable concerning the use of these applications is self-esteem, although the are inconclusive. It seems established that self-esteem is the most important psychological predictor of using dating apps [ 6859 ]. But some authors, such as Orosz et al. The relationship between dating app use and attachment has also been studied.
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Chin et al. Sociosexuality is another important variable concerning the use of dating apps. It has been found that users of these applications tended to have a less restrictive sociosexuality, especially those who used them to have casual sex [ 67821 ].
Finally, the most studied approach in this field is the one that relates the use of dating apps with certain personality traits, both from the Big Five and from the dark personality model. As for the Big Five model, Castro et al. Other studies looked at the use of apps, these personality traits, and relational status.
For their part, Timmermans et al. The dark personality, on the other hand, has been used to predict the different reasons for using dating apps [ 48 ], as well as certain antisocial behaviors in Tinder [ 651 ]. As for the differences in dark personality traits between users and non-users of dating apps, the are inconclusive. A study was localized that highlighted the relevance of psychopathy [ 3 ] whereas another study found no predictive power as a global indicator of dark personality [ 23 ]. It is very difficult to know not only the actual of users of dating apps in any country in the world but also the prevalence of use.
This varies depending on the collectives studied and the sampling techniques used. Given this caveat, the of some studies do allow an idea of the proportion of people using these apps. It has been found to vary between the The study of Botnen et al. But only one-fifth were current users, a result similar to those found by Castro et al.
The most widely used, and therefore the most examined, apps in the studies are Tinder and Grindr. The first is the most popular among heterosexuals, and the second among men of sexual minorities [ 3183670 ].