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London - An online dating app has been attacked as sexist and even accused of encouraging prostitution.

Carrot Dating, developed by an MIT graduate, allows men to “bribe” women by offering them dates with everything from jewellery to a tank full of petrol. Users wanting to get the romance going can even offer prospective suitors plastic surgery.

The idea behind the app is that users “dangle a carrot” in exchange for getting women to go out with them, according to its creator, Brandon Wade.

The app, with its unashamed promotion of bribery, has been likened by the US news website Business Insider to exchanging money for sex.

Business Insider’s Christina Sterbenz wrote: “Through Carrot Dating, users (men) can buy credits to send ‘gifts’ to other users… so they’ll agree to a first date. That sounds quite like an activity illegal in most of the continental US – prostitution.

“Aside from being blatantly sexist, Wade’s app clearly won’t build the chemistry needed to fall in love.

“This problematic app is teaching men that women are greedy idiots who can’t see through blatant and pathetic misogyny.

“For the record, if you offer a woman a present in exchange for a first date, you’re implying she can be bought, much like a hooker.”

This perception is not helped by the fact that Wade sent out a promotional e-mail which contained the phrase, “Give a dog a bone, and it will obey. Give a woman a present and she’ll…”

The Carrot Dating statement continues: “Women have all the power in the online dating world: they receive countless messages from suitors, while men struggle for even a single reply.

“But by ‘dangling’ the right ‘carrot’ in front of beautiful girls, suitors can convince anyone to say yes to a first date.”

Professor Edward Deci, a leading researcher in the study of human motivation, told the New York Times that trying to form a relationship based on bribery was bound to end in failure.

“It is easy to get people to do things by paying them if you’ve got enough money and they’ve got the necessary skills,” he said.

“But they will keep doing it only as long as you keep paying them.

“And even if they were doing it before, when you stop paying them the behaviour drops to a lower level than when you started paying them. We’ve done thousands of experiments on this over 40 years and the data is incredibly robust.”

Wade’s previous creations were also controversial. He is behind the dating auction site, where users are invited to “bid on first dates with beautiful women” and the popular “sugar daddy” dating site Seeking Arrangement. – The