New Research Reveals the One Simple Reason Tinder Is So Addictive

The reason: Dating is impossible. It's the worst game adults have invented for themselves since hunting and gathering. The anxiety, knowing what to wear, a head full of insecurity: Do I have food in my teeth? Does my hair look OK? Can he or she smell the slice of garlic lovers I ate three hours ago? 

And then there's this.

The news: The vast majority of people have absolutely no idea how to tell when someone is flirting with them. 

Thanks to apps like Tinder, in which users simply swipe their smartphone screens over a photo of another single person right for "yes" and left for "no," the practice is becoming less and less necessary. Which is good news considering what a team of researchers discovered. 

In a recent study from the University of Kansas, heterosexual men and women could tell pretty easily — 80% of the time — when someone wasn't interested. But when someone was flirting, the other person rarely — 36% of the time for men and just 18% of the time for women — had a clue.

"Behavior that is flirtatious is hard to see," associate communications professor Jeffrey Hall, who led the study, told KU News Service.

Apparently.


Image Credit: Tinder

The details: First, the researchers placed 52 strangers in a room, paired them off and gave them the opportunity to hit on one another for 10 minutes. Afterward, the subjects filled out a questionnaire identifying whether their partner had flirted and if they had been coquettish with their partner.

Then the researchers performed a second — slightly creepier — study, in which they had 250 volunteers watch videos of other people playing the pick-up game.

In both scenarios, where results are published in the journal Communication Research, men and women were terrible at detecting flirtation. In the second, though, they were slightly more skilled: Men had about a 38% success rate at identifying when someone was flirting, while women could tell 22% of the time.

If you were looking for another reason to support your Tinder habit, this is it. Swiping right is easy. Anything else might as well be scientifically impossible. 

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Erin Brodwin

Erin is a science and health writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Popular Science, Scientific American and Psychology Today.

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