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Everyone’s Swiping Right: The Power of Cascading Behavior for Tinder

The now colloquial term “swiping right” has been popularized by the viral dating app Tinder, which was launched in 2012 as a new way for people to meet each other and build relationships. For dating, an extremely social activity that nearly everyone takes part in, it only makes sense that Tinder would utilize the broad capacities of apps and modern technology to ease this process. Tinder has a great amount of inherent appeal; the app allows you to scroll through profiles of others in your area, in which they express their personal biographies and post photographs to allow one to “swipe right” and express interest in a person with the touch of a finger, avoiding the work-intensive and potentially awkward process of finding and approaching a potential partner that you want to date. Although these inherent benefits of the app help Tinder’s immense popularity, people must still choose between Tinder and alternate dating apps that have essentially the same function, and they also may still see many benefits in classic, face-to-face introductions that were central to dating before these apps were introduced. Beyond the simple functionality and features of the app, Tinder’s success can be traced back to network effects and cascading behavior.

As we studied in class, behaviors of individuals in a society/network can diffuse through the network and become popularized due to other’s choice to take part in the behavior. As this applies to Tinder, individuals may decide to use the app due to its use by others in their society. This arises from both the indirect and direct benefits one receives by choosing to use the app when friends, colleagues, or other people that an individual may be “linked” to also use the app.

First examining indirect benefits, one may see another person taking part in a behavior and assume that they enjoy or find utility in doing so, prompting one to also take part in the behavior. For Tinder, one could see a friend or peer enjoy themselves using the app and assume that they would benefit from using the app as well. More importantly, individuals in a network can receive direct benefits from a peer’s decision if them making the same decision allows them to receive a direct reward by being linked to others who also make that decision. Tinder incorporates direct-benefits in that, when there are many other people in your community using Tinder, you benefit in that your best ability to make a connection with those people using the app is to use the app yourself. Additionally, with more people adopting the app, one obtains more possibilities for finding a match and becomes more likely to meet a partner.

Especially with many people exclusively using Tinder to meet new people and search for dating opportunities, one’s choice to use Tinder provides them the ability to meet those “tinder-only” people instead of using an alternate dating app and missing out on those opportunities for potential dates. One may not be able to even have the initial possibility of dating a peer they are linked to if they do not also use the app, and this common-thought process, a product of diffusion of behaviors in networks, leads many to choose Tinder as their way to meet new people. This network effect can create cascades in which a large amount of individuals in a network gradually shift to using Tinder by nature of those who they know or that they want to potentially date also using Tinder, starting with an initial population of users and expanding over time as more and more people want to reap the app’s growing benefits. Now, after nearly 7 year’s of growth and success that Tinder has had, the app has reached an extremely wide market and reigns as one of the most dominant dating methods in existence.




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November 2018