Tinder Users Have Low Sexual Disgust Sensitivity, Study Finds

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Tinder and similar dating apps have undoubtedly changed dating for an entire generation of people, and numerous scientific studies exploring the impact Tinder has had on human relationships have come out over the years.

A new study by Barış Sevi of West Virginia University sheds light on the link between sexual disgust and Tinder use. Published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, the study builds on Sevi’s past research, which has shown that, although Tinder users have different motivations for using the app, casual sex is the most common one.

Since casual sex is inherently risky in terms of health and physical safety, Sevi’s latest study aims to answer three key questions.

  1. Do users and non-users differ in their risk taking and sexual disgust?
  2. Does low sexual disgust predict risk taking and motivation to use Tinder?
  3. What differences are there between men and women, if any?

For the study, the West Virginia University researcher surveyed 271 American adults. One hundred and eighty two were Tinder users, and 89 were not. Study participants were asked to rate, for instance, “hearing two strangers having sex” and similar sexual situations as more or less disgusting.

Results showed that Tinder users have lower sexual disgust sensitivity compared to non-users, and that Tinder users generally engage in risky behaviors unrelated to sex, such as driving without a seat belt, or drinking heavily.

Answering the second question that the study aimed to answer, results showed that individuals prone to risk-taking are more likely to use Tinder than those who lead less risky lives.

Furthermore, the link between sexual disgust and risk taking, and Tinder use, was stronger among female participants.

In this photo illustration, the icon for the dating app Tinder is seen on the screen of an iPhone.
Featured image credit: Joe RaedleGetty Images

In a statement supplied to PsyPost, Sevi explained that his latest study, like all studies, has some limitations, with the biggest one being the fact that all surveyed individuals were Americans.

“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,” he said.

The second limitation, as Sevi said, is the fact that results are purely correlational.

“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,” the researcher explained.

This study builds on Sevi’s previous research. His 2017 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that high socio-sexuality predicts motivation to use Tinder for casual sex, and established that individuals with higher sexual disgust sensitivity are not as motivated to use online dating apps.