Tinder is a geo-located online dating application, which is present in almost 200 countries and has 10 million daily users. The aim of the present research was to investigate the motivational, personality, and basic psychological need-related background of problematic Tinder use.
After qualitative pretest and item construction, in Study 1 (N = 414), confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to corroborate the different motivational factors behind Tinder use. In Study 2 (N = 346), the associations between Big Five traits, Tinder motivations, and problematic Tinder use were examined with structural equation modeling (SEM). In Study 3 (N = 298), the potential role of general self-esteem, relatedness need satisfaction, and frustration in relation to Tinder-use motivations and problematic Tinder use was examined with SEM.
In Study 1, a 16-item first-order factor structure was identified with four motivational factors, such as sex, love, self-esteem enhancement, and boredom. In Study 2, problematic Tinder use was mainly related to using Tinder for self-esteem enhancement. The Big Five personality factors were only weakly related to the four motivations and to problematic Tinder use. Counterintuitively, Study 3 showed that instead of global self-esteem, relatedness need frustration was the strongest predictor of self-esteem enhancement Tinder-use motivation which, in turn, was the strongest predictor of problematic Tinder use.
Four motivational factors were identified as predictors of problematic use with need frustration being a relevant background variable instead of general personality traits.