Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 1301–1314 | Cite as

Smartphone Battery Levels and Sexual Decision-Making Among Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Alex Lopes
  • Kaylee Skoda
  • Cory L. PedersenEmail author
Original Paper


Smartphone-dating and hook-up apps are undeniable factors in the modern landscape of sexuality. In particular, gay and bisexual men have bridged social and societal barriers for connection by using these apps. Despite advantages afforded by such technological advancements, when individuals are faced with a low phone battery, a sense of urgency may be experienced, which can increase risk-taking behaviours to accommodate an impending phone “death”. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a draining smartphone battery would facilitate a greater likelihood of agreeing to a hookup encounter. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three battery life condition groups (5%, 20%, 100%) and were asked how likely they were to agree to a hookup with a simulated potential sexual partner. We discovered that, relative to a full battery condition, participants were more likely to agree to a hookup in the lowest battery condition. Additionally, men who reported a greater likelihood of agreeing to a hookup also endorsed a greater propensity for sensation seeking, regardless of the battery condition. These findings have practical implications for educating smartphone users who utilize dating and hookup apps about how scarcity decision-making and sensation-seeking can impact the ability to practice safe sexual behaviours.


Hookups Dating applications MSM Decision-making Smartphones 



We would like to thank Amanda Champion and Shelby Hughes for helpful contributions on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKwantlen Polytechnic UniversitySurreyCanada

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