Experiment Shows Just How Much We Trust Online Dating Apps

Apr 29, 2013 18:13:12Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Experiment Shows Just How Much We Trust Online Dating Apps

Online dating apps are constantly evolving, and it seems like every day a new one pops up and takes an innovative spin on the concept of web-based romance. Tinder is one such program that uses location-based technology and a minimalist approach to connect singles who live in the same area. The app's website lists three "values" that they promise to uphold for users - locality, meaning the app strives to be a "network of interesting people around you;" usability, meaning the app is "fun and easy to use" and anonymity - the app promises to never share information without permission. Despite this final assurance, a recent social experiment carried out by a group of students at Brigham Young University shows that many Tinder users put a lot of trust in the app - to the point where they may risk becoming victims of the dangers of online dating.

What Is Tinder?
Before you can understand the impact of the students' experiment, you must first understand how the app works. Unlike services like Match.com and OKCupid, Tinder does not allow users to fill out full profiles. Instead, it puts the emphasis on photos and shows users people who share mutual friends and interests, provided those people are nearby. Users can only chat with one another if they both indicate they are interested in doing so. The app's creators claim that this type of online dating, though somewhat superficial, more closely mimics what it's like to meet people in real life.

The Experiment
Tinder's popularity shows just how successful this approach is. It took off on Brigham Young's campus, which caught the interest of three roommates at the college, explains Bianca Bosker in an article on the Huffington Post. To see whether users would really want to meet people whom they had only seen photos of, the three students created a fake profile using pictures culled from Miss Teen USA Kendall Fein's online profile.

Next, the students "liked" every guy that popped up in their area, then sent a message to the 250 or so who liked the fake profile back, letting them know that this user would be visiting a frozen yogurt establishment on Friday evening.

"We thought maybe five people would show up, because it's kind of sketchy to have just a random person you've never met send you this one message," one of the students running the experiment told the news source. But the students were proven wrong - the yogurt shop was jam-packed, with dozens of men waiting in their cars in the parking lot as well.

All Users Must Be Careful
When you read about safe dating tips, they're usually geared toward women. However, this social experiment goes to show that men, too, can be duped into taking risks when romance is involved. No matter who you are, it's essential that you vet people you meet online before meeting them. It's never wise to show up on a date after exchanging only one message, as many of these young Tinder users seem to have found out.