Research Links Dating App Use to Dark Personality Traits

"Dark Triad" traits like narcissism and Machiavellianism were found to be strong indictors of dating app use

person holding a phone open to a dating apps
A probable narcissist swiping away on a dating app.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you feel like you only ever meet arrogant, manipulative jerks on dating apps, you might not be wrong. In fact, you might even be one yourself, according to a recent study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The study, from a team of researchers at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, found that dating app users are more likely to possess “dark” traits, such as narcissism and Machiavellianism, than “bright” or neutral traits like agreeableness and openness.

This conclusion was based on a three-week survey that tracked the dating app usage of 555 German adults, who were also asked to complete two personality analyses: the Big Five and the Naughty Nine. The former measures neutral personality traits such as extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, while the Naughty Nine tracks negative traits like narcissism, Machiavellianism (a tendency to prioritize one’s own self-interest and to deceive and manipulate others to that end) and psychopathy.

The researchers found that the presence of negative traits, specifically narcissism, were stronger predictors of dating app use than the neutral or positive ones. Narcissism turned out to be the strongest predictor of whether someone used dating apps, while Machiavellianism was linked to daily dating app use. Meanwhile, the only neutral trait that showed any strong correlation with dating app use was emotional stability, but in the wrong way. That is, less emotionally stable people were more likely to be on dating apps.

The good news, however, is that the researchers found no link between dating app use and psychopathy, which is generally characterized by a lack of empathy. So while we dating app addicts may be a bunch of emotionally volatile narcissists and ruthlessly self-interested manipulators, at least we’re not psychopaths.

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