Smartphone Shopping

Smartphone dating apps are soaring in popularity, not because they offer users an easy way to meet others looking for love, but because they replicate "real world" dating experiences better than traditional online dating sites, psychologists have claimed.

Apps like Tinder and Grindr allow people to scroll through pictures of users in nearby locations, and then chat with people who "like" their profile pictures.

Others are much more direct. Bang with Friends (BWF) allows users to identify which of their Facebook friends they would like to be more than friends with. If both parties feel the same way, BWF notifies them. BWF was pulled from Apple's app store, but that hasn't stopped it from creating 200,000 pairings since its January launch. Colin Hodge, BWF's boss, admits he came up with the concept while "a bit tipsy".

These apps are based more on a person's first impression of other users' physical appearance, which is often more instinctive and mirrors people's real-life impulses much better than traditional online dating sites like Match.com, e-Harmony and Plenty of Fish.

Online dating sites often ask people to create detailed profiles stating their preferences in a perfect partner to help match them with potentially compatible dates.

But psychologists say mobile dating is a much more social experience that can lead to more "serendipitous" meetings. Psychologists argued this may be more romantic than being matched to a partner by a dating website algorithm. But it's not clear how many people using mobile dating apps are looking for true love.

Even if it is a bit lazy mobile dating replicates the traditional version of dating
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of psychology, University College London

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of psychology at University College London, told The Times: "[Using a dating website] is almost like booking a holiday or a job application, as you try to customise your partners. Mobile dating – and Tinder is a good example – is different. It is more linked to impulse and emotions and focuses on attractiveness and looks, which is more realistic, even if it is a bit more lazy. It replicates the traditional version of dating more closely than Match.com or eHarmony as it allows for more serendipity."

Graham Jones, an internet psychologist said: "Mobile dating apps are a more sociable activity that you can use with friends down the pub rather than sitting at home on your laptop on a dating website."

Five digital dating tips
(Source: PC Mag)

  1. Search for your date on Google and Facebook to get a feel for his or her personality and history.
  2. Do not be shy about ordering a background check on someone before meeting.
  3. Remember that sarcasm does not translate well in written text.
  4. Keep your expectations low. Online sparks do not always mean real-life fireworks.
  5. Don't visit online dating sites while drunk or otherwise not fully in control of your faculties.