Sidebar info for Hookup Culture: Design and Psychology behind Dating Apps

Kody Elsayed

Swipe right, swipe left, red X, green heart, more likes, more views, profile edits and messaging too. A whirlwind of options fill the page; messages pop up to excite and draw the user closer.

Some features are needed for dating apps to function. Those designing the dating app world have created an experience that draws users in.

Vivid colors:

Reds, oranges and yellows have a psychological pull to the eye, said Sean Sabihi, a senior psychology student with minor in user experience design.

“Tinder specifically has really big red calls to action,” Sabihi said. “They make you want to purchase a premium plan.”

These colors are predominantly used in many dating apps.

Calls to action:

Not only do the overall design of apps use the psychological call of color to pull users in, but effective calls to action also affect users on dating apps.

 Sensations such as vibrating alerts manipulate human senses to draw users back into the apps. 

“You get a vibrating touch when you match with someone. This human-computer interaction with the app makes you want to keep coming back to it,” Sabihi said. 

Gambling mentality:

“The ambiguity of the apps are addictive. You are opening up Tinder or Bumble because you don’t know what you are going to see,” Sabihi said. “That ambiguity creates and anxious build-up of ‘What am I going to see now.’” 

This gambling mentality directly brings users back to the app time and time again in hopes of finding that special someone, let it be for a quick hookup or for the love of their lifetime.

 “The gambling aspect is the addictive part of the app,” Sabihi said. “The next person could be the one.”

Searching for love at a young age has a different meaning to different people.

Some are looking for one night of lust and others are hoping to find someone to share their entire lives with. Either case, theses apps are designing features to meet those needs.

It is clear through these features these apps create that app designers use this information to keep users on their apps, Sabihi said.

“You get instant gratification and feel good about yourself,” Sabihi said. “It keeps users coming back.”