Dating app users swipe left or right ‘based on attractiveness and race’

Users of dating apps such as Tinder, OKCupid and swipe left or right based on attractiveness and race, a new study reveals.

US researchers found attractiveness and race preferences were the top predictors of whether people would swipe left or right – and nearly twice as important as any other factors. 

Other individual characteristics – such as personality and hobbies – were poor predictors of which way someone would swipe. 

On dating apps, a swipe left means you’re not interested in the person, while a swipe right means you are interested. 

The average time for swiping right was just below one second. However, if a swiper didn’t like someone, this time got even shorter to about half a second.  

On Tinder (pictured) users anonymously like another user by swiping right or pass by swiping left. If two users like each other it then results in a ‘match’ and they are able to chat within the app. US researchers reveal people swipe either left or right in less than a second based on attractiveness and race


The first ever incarnation of a dating app can be traced back to 1995 when was first launched.

The website allowed single people to upload a profile, a picture and chat to people online.

The app was intended to allow people looking for long-term relationships to meet.

eHarmony was developed in 2000 and two years later Ashley Madison, a site dedicated to infidelity and cheating, was first launched.

A plethora of other dating sites with a unique target demographic were set up in the next 10-15 years including: OKCupid (2004), Plenty of Fish (2006), Grindr (2009) and Happn (2013).

In 2012, Tinder was launched and was the first ‘swipe’ based dating platform.

After its initial launch it’s usage snowballed and by March 2014 there were one billion matches a day, worldwide.

In 2014, co-founder of Tinder, Whitney Wolfe Herd launched Bumble, a dating app that empowered women by only allowing females to send the first message.    

The study was conducted by researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Maryland. 

‘It’s extremely eye-opening that people are willing to make decisions about whether or not they would like to get to another human being, in less than a second and based almost solely on the other person’s looks,’ said William Chopik, an associate professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Psychology and one of the two study authors.

‘Also surprising was just how little everything beyond attractiveness and race mattered for swiping behaviour.

‘Your personality didn’t seem to matter, how open you were to hook-ups didn’t matter, or even your style for how you approach relationships or if you were looking short or long-term didn’t matter.

‘Attractiveness and race were nearly double the influence from other things.’ 

The research used two studies, totalling 2,679 participants, to measure how dating app users from different walks of life interacted with available profiles.     

‘Despite online dating becoming an increasingly popular way for people to meet one another, there is little research on how people connect with each other on these platforms,’ said Chopik. 

‘We wanted to understand what makes someone want to swipe left or swipe right, and the process behind how they make those decisions.’ 

The first study focused on college students, while the second focused on older adults, averaging 35 years old. 

Participants were given a choice to either view profiles of men or women, depending on their dating preferences.

Male participants, on average, swiped right more often than women, indicating their interest.

It was also found that individuals who perceived themselves to be more attractive swiped left more often overall – showing they were choosier when picking out potential partners.    

While attractiveness played a major role in participants’ decisions to swipe left or right, race was a leading factor. 

By 2037, half of babies are likely to be born to couples who met online, according to a 2019 report

By 2037, half of babies are likely to be born to couples who met online, according to a 2019 report 

Users were significantly more likely to swipe right on users of their same race, and profiles of users of colour were rejected more often than those of white users.

‘The disparities were rather shocking,’ Chopik said. 

‘Profiles of black users were rejected more often than white users, highlighting another way people of colour face bias in everyday life.’

The researchers claim that people are attracted to and tend to assort with same race partners. People of colour ‘may face barriers to dating in mobile dating contexts’, they say. 

Currently, Chopik is researching how people using online dating apps respond to profiles that swipe right on them first to indicate their interest. 

Though his findings are still being finalised, so far, the data seems to show that people are significantly more likely to swipe right on a profile that liked them first, even if the user is less attractive or the profile in general is less appealing.

‘We like people who like us,’ Chopik said. 

‘It makes sense that we want to connect with others who have shown an interest in us, even if they weren’t initially a top choice.’

New online dating platforms, such as Tinder, are ‘dramatically changing the context in which people seek romantic relationships’, according to the experts, who have published their study in the Journal of Research in Personality. 

By 2037, half of babies are likely to be born to couples who met online, according to a 2019 report, due to a generation of smartphone users using dating apps. 

But looking for love on a smartphone often provides ‘relatively little information about potential dates’, the researchers say. 

‘Although these dating platforms have integrated additional features that provide individuating information, users report often basing their dating decisions on the physical appearance of the people in the photos they provide,’ they say. 

‘In this way, dating decisions in this context may be driven by how attractive people judge photos of others they might want to date and may be qualitatively different than how people make decisions in other contexts.’ 

2037 will be the year when MORE children will be born to parents who met online rather than in real life 

Within 20 years, ‘e-babies’ – babies born to parents who met online, will be more common than babies born to couples who met by traditional means, according to research published in 2019. 

Researchers from Imperial College London Business School used projections from current ONS birth rates and data from dating website eHarmony. 

They found that just shy of three million e-babies have been born since the turn of the millennium, as of the publication date (November 2019). 

Over a third – 35 per cent – of online couples that had a baby did so within a year of meeting. 

The experts pinpointed 2037 as the year when more than half of babies born will be born to online couples. 

They estimated that by 2030, four in 10 babies born will be e-babies.

This growth in online dating has particularly accelerated over the past few years, with almost a third of relationships – 32 per cent – started between 2015 and 2019. 

This figure was almost a 68 per cent increase on the period between 2005 and 2014 (19 per cent).  

Read more:  2037 will be the year of the ‘e-babies’