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Why Men should Always Swipe Right: The Game Theory of Tinder

This Buzzfeed article discusses how game theory can be applied to using the dating app Tinder. For those who are not familiar, there are essentially two moves a “player” using the app has. You can swipe right to “like” another player or left to “pass.”  If they’ve also “liked” you, a match is created and you can start messaging your match. More and more commonly, men only swipe right on Tinder; it has been found to be a dominant strategy (as we learned in class, is the term for when one strategy should always be used over the others) for them based on how women use the app!

To understand why, we must view Tinder from the eyes of a game theorist and go on to assign payoffs to the different actions/outcomes. If a male user swipes right (as fast as he can with no double-thinking), he can go through each profile in approximately 0.7 seconds; let’s round up and assign -1 seconds to quick-swiping. Then, when a match happens to occur, the user can look through the profile and decide if he wants to message the girl. Being an exclusively right-swiper is a bad idea only when a male is matched so often that the cost of insta-swiping was greater than the cost of considering every profile up front. However, after doing the math and seeing that considering a profile takes -2 seconds, a male user could still use the insta-swipe method if less than 50% of women are swiping right on his profile. The author of the article goes on to discuss that “taking four seconds to consider each profile would only make sense if 75% of women swiped right.” This is just not the case for most men on Tinder, since women are so frugal with their swipes.

If Tinder’s goal is to really “advance real world interactions,” they should accept the equilibrium that has come about and make it so men automatically match with every woman that swipes right on them.





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