What Tinder does to your brain

  • 07/09/2015
What Tinder does to your brain

By Kim Vinnell

Tinder is the dating app that markets itself as being "like real life but better".

You look at people's profiles and swipe left or right depending on whether you want to date them.

But the app has been villianised the world over. People have said it's the dawn of the dating apocalypse and it is killing romance.

So is it? Perhaps more importantly, could it actually be changing something more than dating – could it be changing the way our brains work?

"You can actually build a habit out of this by having this reinforced – the behaviour of doing the swiping – so it becomes very hard to avoid doing it," says neuroscientist Dr John Reynolds.

More than 10 million people use Tinder, where connections are almost solely based on first physical impressions.

"I would say that Tinder does rely on stimuli, salient stimuli," says Dr Reynolds. "When you do your swipe and say you like someone, there's going to be an expectation. You're going to wait. Dopamine is going to slowly ramp up until something happens. And if you suddenly hit a match, there would be a shot of dopamine."

Dopamine is the reward chemical in our brains – the thing that makes us feel good. So if getting a match on Tinder is the goal we're trying to achieve, which in my seven days using the app became strangely important, it's likely you're getting a shot of dopamine every time someone says yes.

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