A new study showed that dating apps might be a breeding ground for dark personalities. Researchers linked two of the Dark Triad traits to have the tendency to spend more time on dating apps, compared to other personality traits.
The association of the Dark Triad traits with dating apps usage was revealed by researchers at Johannes Kepler University Linz. Their study highlighted two Dark Triad traits as predictors of dating app usage, compared to other personality traits. Specifically, the association was more prominent in narcissism and Machiavellianism. Psychopathy trait was not found with a significant correlation to the usage. They published their findings in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
US Dating App Audience and Popularity
In this pandemic, online services are the best way to perform tasks without risking oneself to COVID-19. From deliveries to communication, apps and websites provided the means for people to reach one another. Dating apps are currently the most optimal method for finding connections worldwide, whether for romance or friendship. But before the pandemic began, dating apps already gained popularity in the past several years due to advancements in mobile technology.
According to Statista, a German portal for statistics, several dating apps were popular in the US last year. As of September 2019, Tinder had the highest audience size of 7.86 million. It was followed by Bumble at 5.03 million, Plenty of Fish at 4.28 million, Match at 1.95 million, OkCupid at 1.79 million, Grindr at 1.64 million, Hinge at 1.21 million, Zoosk at 0.91 million, MeetMe at 0.91 million, and Ashley Madison at 0.85 million. These figures were obtained from the age group of 18 years and older.
Meanwhile, the percentage of US adults using online dating services appeared to have declined this year. In a survey from April 22 to 24, 2020, 2,200 respondents expressed their answers when asked if they were using an online dating app or service. Only 6% said that they were using an online app or service while 21% said they used one before but not currently using. Around 73% said they had never used such as an app or service.
Online dating is advised for those looking for a special someone in this pandemic. However, experts recommend caution. Dating apps and services can be a pool of victims for fraudsters. Many will assume an identity of someone, make someone fall in love, and trick them into sending money. As such, app users must be attentive to avoid getting victimized.
Dark Triad Traits as Predictors of Dating App Usage
In psychology, the Dark Triad is composed of three traits with significant malevolent qualities than other personality traits. This group is composed of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Narcissism refers to egotism, pride, and lack of empathy. Machiavellianism refers to the exploitation and manipulation of others to achieve their goals. Psychopathy refers to antisocial behavior, lack of remorse, and impulse actions. While the Dark Triad is separate from the Big Five personality traits, three of the Big Five are known with the strongest connection to the dark traits.
Recently, a pair of researchers investigated personality traits that could be predictors of dating app behavior. Their investigation revealed that two traits of the Dark Triad could indicate the tendency of using dating apps and services. However, the research did not express that dating app users were malevolent. They also found that love remained the number one factor in using these online services.
In the study, researchers recruited 555 German adults. The participants became a part of a three-week tracking study. Some of them installed software on their smartphone that monitored their usage of the three most popular dating apps in Germany. While others self-reported the use of their dating apps. Then, researchers instructed participants to complete two well-recognized personality scales: the Big Five and the Naughty Nine.
The Big Five scale measures the scores of personality traits openness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion. The Naughty Nine scale measures the scores of the traits of the Dark Triad. The questionnaires included some general scenarios that could reflect actions using dating apps, including the purpose of flattery. This enabled researchers to learn insights into the personality traits that would be connected to dating apps.
Results showed that negative personality traits were better predictors of online dating usage, compared to positive or neutral personality traits. Among all traits, narcissism and Machiavellianism had the strongest connection to dating app usage. Specifically, narcissism had the highest connection to the use of online dating apps, while Machiavellianism had the highest connection to the average daily usage. These two were tagged as predictors of frequent usage.
Among neutral traits, emotional stability was the only trait correlated to dating app usage. However, its connection expressed the neutral trait in reverse mode. The less emotionally stable a person was, the more likely they would be using online dating services. No positive personality traits were found substantially connected to the use of online dating services. But researchers found that between love and sex as a motive, love was a powerful motivator for using dating apps than sex.
Dr. Mark Travers, an academic researcher of psychology, explained the implications of the study findings in the US magazine Psychology Today. The findings simply unveiled that users of dating apps might likely be more manipulative, sneaky, and self-obsessed than average people. Regardless of motive, many users would likely exert these intentions to achieve results, which could be attention, romance, or sex, among others. The dark traits might also explain why some only joined dating apps to trick other users into doing something. These individuals often manipulate others to exercise control.
Since the study is focused on traits as predictors, the findings will contribute to the growing understanding of the personality traits and actual behavior in online dating services. There are other unexplored aspects that require further research. Some of these aspects include dating websites with the highest percentage of dark personality traits, what online behavior types may differentiate a dark personality trait from a light trait, and how these personality traits will interact with each other online.