What makes you swipe right on Tinder? Some may just like the look of the person and go for it; others may check out a potential lady or beau’s bio and see if the person is into the same fandoms they are. Obviously, you can’t find out if a person is really right for you that quickly, whether you spend a second checking out their face or several minutes looking at their bio. Which begs the question… why do we swipe right for the wrong people on Tinder? What is the real motivation here?
Researchers from Eastern Kentucky University set out to answer that very question in a recent study, in which they tested 170 female college students. The end goal? To see if—or rather, how—physical attractiveness affects reactions to men in both normal situations and creepy situations (the latter of which were lab-designed and safe, don’t worry!). Try to guess which scenario is which (it won’t exactly be difficult): In one scenario, the male subject asks the female subject to borrow a pen in class, in the other, the male subject asks the female subject if he can take her photograph for a modeling project. Um, yeah.
The college women were also split up into two groups. The groups were shown photographs of an attractive man and an unattractive man (as judged by the researchers). There was a difference between the groups though; for one group, researchers paired the attractive man with the non-creepy scenario and the unattractive man with the creepy scenario, and, for the other group, vice versa. The women’s reactions were measured, and they were asked whether they’d agree to the requests.
The vast majority of the women (96%) had no problem with lending a pen to either man. Makes sense, right? Here’s the kicker: Although 93% of women declined the photographing request from both men, their reactions were vastly different. The women judged the character of the unattractive man for his creepy request, assuming he himself was creepy; for the attractive man, they simply viewed his action as creepy without extending it any further. That is, they were WAY more judgmental of the not-so-good-looking dude.
So what does all of this have to do with our Tinder swiping? The study suggested that this sort of intrinsic gut reaction is the same sort of one we have on Tinder. Even if men seem creepy on Tinder (and other online dating platforms), we give them the benefit of the doubt if they’re hot. Presumably, this same logic would extend to women as well.
A way to avoid this: Be mindful as you swipe. If a match feels uncomfortable or creepy to you, don’t entertain them just because they look like your celeb crush. Swipe left and move on, ’cause ain’t nobody got time for that.