Advertisement

Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 183–191 | Cite as

Dating Application Use and Sexual Risk Behavior Among Young Adults

  • Ashlee N. Sawyer
  • Erin R. Smith
  • Eric G. Benotsch
Article

Abstract

Cell phone-based dating applications (apps) are increasingly popular in the USA. However, there is a paucity of research regarding dating app use among young heterosexual adults. This study examined the prevalence of dating application use and its connections with sexual behavior among young heterosexual adults. Five hundred nine heterosexual cisgender undergraduate students aged 18–25 completed an online survey assessing trait impulsivity, dating app use and motivations for using dating apps, sexual behavior, and demographics. 39.5% of the participants reported using dating apps. Individuals who used dating apps had higher rates of sexual risk behaviors in the past 3 months, including sex after using drugs or alcohol, and unprotected sex (anal or vaginal), and more lifetime sexual partners. When controlling for demographics and impulsivity, individuals who used dating applications were twice as likely to have had unprotected sex in the past 3 months, but were not significantly more likely to have had multiple partners within the past 3 months. In an exploratory analysis controlling for demographics and impulsivity, dating app use predicted the number of lifetime sexual partners. This study documented an association between dating app use and sexual risk behaviors among young heterosexual adults. Results suggest potential targets for intervention, including interventions that address sexual health information, and the dissemination of sexual health information through dating apps themselves.

Keywords

Sexual risk behavior Heterosexual Young adults Dating application App Mobile Technology 

Abbreviations

STI

Sexually transmitted infection

MSM

Men who have sex with men

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

GPS

Global positioning system

Notes

Acknowledgements

All parties who have contributed significantly to this work have been listed as authors, and all authors have reviewed and approved the publication of this manuscript. An oral presentation of this study was given at the 37th annual meeting and scientific sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Funding

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The 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 and/or national 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.

References

  1. Benotsch, E. G., Zimmerman, R. S., Cathers, L., Heck, T., McNulty, S., Pierce, J., Perrin, P. B., & Snipes, D. J. (2016). Use of the Internet to meet sexual partners, sexual risk behavior, and mental health in transgender adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 597–605.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhattacharya, S. (2015). Swipe and burn. New Scientist, 225(3002), 30–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bilton, N. (2014). Tinder, the fast-growing dating app, taps an age-old truth. New York: The New York Times, Fashion & Style Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/30/fashion/tinder-the-fast-growing-dating-app-taps-an-age-old-truth.html.Google Scholar
  4. Birthrong, A., & Latzman, R. D. (2014). Aspects of impulsivity are differentially associated with risky sexual behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 57, 8–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolding, G., Davis, M., Hart, G., Sherr, L., & Elford, J. (2006). Heterosexual men and women who seek sex through the internet. International Journal of STD & AIDS, 17, 530–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buhi, E. R., Klinkenberger, N., McFarlane, M., Kachur, R., Daley, E. M., Baldwin, J., et al. (2013). Evaluating the internet as a sexually transmitted disease risk environment for teens: Findings from the communication, health, and teens study. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 40(7), 528–533.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2015). Adolescents, technology, and reducing risk for HIV, STDs and pregnancy. Atlanta, GA: United States Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  8. Charnigo, R., Noar, S. M., Garnett, C., Crosby, R., Palmgreen, P., & Zimmerman, R. S. (2013). Sensation seeking and impulsivity: Combined associations with risky sexual behavior in a large sample of young adults. Journal of Sex Research, 50(5), 480–488.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, H., Cohen, P., & Chen, S. (2010). How big is a big odds ratio? Interpreting the magnitudes of odds ratios in epidemiological studies. Communications in Statistics – Simulation and Computation, 39(4), 860–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dir, A. L., Cyders, M. A., Riley, E. N., & Smith, G. T. (2015). Tinder use and association with problematic alcohol use and sexual hookups among college females. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 39(6).Google Scholar
  11. Dredge, S. (2015). Tinder hits back at research claiming 42% of its users have partners. London: The Guardian Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/08/tinder-hits-back-research-users-partners-married.Google Scholar
  12. Freier, A. (2015). Tinder mobile app statistics and revenue. Business of Apps. Retrieved from: http://www.businessofapps.com/tinder-mobile-app-statistics-and-revenue/.
  13. Gavin, L., MacKay, A. P., Brown, K., Harrier, S., Ventura, S. J., Kann, L., et al. (2009). Sexual and reproductive health of persons aged 10–24 years—United States, 2002–2007: Department of Health & Human Services. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
  14. Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Grosskopf, N. A., LeVasseur, M. T., & Glaser, D. B. (2014). Use of the internet and mobile-based “apps” for sex-seeking among men who have sex with men in New York City. American Journal of Men’s Health, 8(6), 510–520.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hirshfield, S., Remien, R. H., Humberstone, M., Walavalkar, I., & Chiasson, M. A. (2004). Substance use and high-risk sex among men who have sex with men: A national online study in the US. AIDS Care, 16, 1036–1047.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hollander, M., & Wolfe, D. A. (1999). Nonparametric statistical methods (2nded ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Holloway, I. W., Rice, E., Gibbs, J., Winetrobe, H., Dunlap, S., & Rhoades, H. (2014). Acceptability of smartphone application-based HIV prevention among young men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior, 18, 285–296.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Hu, M. C., Pavlicova, M., & Nunes, E. V. (2011). Zero-inflated and hurdle models of count data with extra zeroes: Examples form an HIV risk-reduction intervention trial. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 37, 367–375.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Isaac, M. (2016). Grindr sells stake to Chinese company. New York: The New York Times, Technology Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/technology/grindr-sells-stake-to-chinese-company.html?_r=2.Google Scholar
  21. Ko, N. Y., Koe, S., Lee, H. C., Yen, C. F., Ko, W. C., & Hsu, S. T. (2012). Online sex-seeking, substance use, and risky behaviors in Taiwan: Results from the 2010 Asia Internet MSM sex survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 1273–1282.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Lehmiller, J. J., & Loerger, M. (2014). Social networking smartphone applications and sexual health outcomes among men who have sex with men. PLoS ONE, 9(1), e86603.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Lenward, J. A., & Berrang-Ford, L. (2014). Internet-based partner selection and risk for unprotected anal intercourse in sexual encounters among men who have sex with men: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 90, 290–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mohdin, A. (2015). Dating apps like Tinder are being blamed for spreading sexually-transmitted diseases. Quartz. Retrieved from: http://qz.com/538776/dating-apps-like-tinder-are-being-blamed-for-spreading-sexually-transmitted-diseases/.
  25. Napper, L. E., Fisher, D. G., Reynolds, G. L., & Johnson, M. E. (2010). HIV risk behavior self-report reliability at different recall periods. AIDS and Behavior, 14, 152–161.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Patton, J. H., Stanford, M. S., & Barratt, E. S. (1995). Factor structure of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 768–774.  https://doi.org/10.1002/1097-4679(199511)51:6_768::AIDJCLP2270510607_3.0.CO;2-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Pinkerton, S. D., Benotsch, E. G., & Mikytuck, J. M. (2007). When do simpler sexual behavior data collection techniques suffice? An analysis of consequent uncertainty in HIV acquisition risk estimates. Evaluation Review, 31, 401–412.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Reise, S. R., Moore, T. M., Sabb, F. W., Brown, A. K., & London, E. D. (2013). The Baratt Impulsiveness Scale-11: Reassessment of its structure in a community sample. Psychological Assessment, 25(2), 631–642.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Reyns, B. W., Henson, B., & Fisher, B. S. (2014). Digital deviance: Low self-control and opportunity as explanations of sexting among college students. Sociological Spectrum, 34, 273–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rice, E., Holloway, I. W., Winetrobe, H., et al. (2012). Sex risk among young men who have sex with men who use Grindr, a smartphone geosocial networking application. Journal for AIDS and Clinical Research, S4, 005.  https://doi.org/10.4172/2155-6113.S4-005.Google Scholar
  31. Smith, A. (2016). 15% of American adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  32. Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2016). 5 facts about online dating. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  33. Smith, A., & Duggan, M. (2013). Online dating & relationships. Washington, DC: Pew Research center, Internet, Science, and Technology.Google Scholar
  34. Winetrobe, H., Rice, E., Bauermeister, J., Petering, R., & Holloway, I. W. (2014). Associations of unprotected anal intercourse with Grindr-met partners among Grindr-using young men who have sex with men in Los Angeles. AIDS Care, 26, 1303–1308.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashlee N. Sawyer
    • 1
  • Erin R. Smith
    • 1
  • Eric G. Benotsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations