What Tinder Tells You About Behavioural Science

Aliza Rosenfelder
4 min readMay 27, 2022

Here are 4 concepts to bear in mind the next time you’re tempted to swipe

Rory Sutherland recently said at an event, meeting his partner before the rise of online dating was like getting the last helicopter out of Saigon. It’s a point of view that many can understand.

Whether you love them or loathe them, dating apps have irrevocably changed the society we live in. Instead of meeting someone through friends, at the workplace or even swing dancing — the majority of us now meet our partners online.

However, as E.O. Wilson said “We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous.” If you gave Ted Bundy a Tinder profile, he could manage to find a few decent photos and some reasonable responses to the prompts offered.

The removal of the traditional social context in which you meet your significant other has shown one thing: The sheer level of bs (behavioural science) you face when encountering strangers on the internet.

On that note, here are 4 concepts to bear in mind the next time you’re tempted to swipe:

- Paradox of Choice

Online dating is a candy store to some. On Tinder the top 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men. If you’re lucky enough to be a “catch” the only limitation to your number of dates is your stamina and tolerance for small-talk.

Yet, people don’t actually like too much choice. Barry Schwartz in his book, appropriately titled The Paradox of Choice, says that the more choices you have the harder it is to choose. This can lead to analysis paralysis and unrealistic expectations.

As Voltaire said “the perfect is the enemy of the good”. The illusion that there are infinite options is making a lot of people miserable.

- The Attractiveness Bias

When you couple this with the fact that apps depend on photos, superficial metrics are bound to be disproportionately prioritised.

Two very unlikely individuals — Richard Nixon and John Fitzgerald Kennedy demonstrated this in their 1960 presidential debate. When surveyed, people who only listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won…

Aliza Rosenfelder

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