Loneliness and social anxiety is a bad combination for single people who frequently use dating apps, say researchers, adding that people who fit that profile were more likely to have experienced negative social outcomes because of their compulsive usage.
"It's not just that they are using their phone a lot, but participants said they were missing school or work, or getting in trouble in classes or at work because they kept checking the dating apps on their phones," said study lead author Kathryn Coduto from the Ohio State University.
"I have seen people who use dating apps compulsively. They take their phones out when they are at dinner with friends or when they are in groups. They really can't stop swiping," she said.
For the study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 269 undergraduate students who had used one or more dating apps were analysed and their loneliness and social anxiety levels were measured.
Participants reported negative social outcomes from frequently using dating apps such as missing class or work or getting in trouble because they were on their phones.
Results showed that socially anxious participants preferred to meet and talk to potential dating partners online rather than in person. They tended to agree with statements like "I am more confident socialising on dating apps than offline."
"But that alone did not lead them to compulsively use dating apps, if they were also lonely, that is what made the problem significant, that combination led to compulsive use and then negative outcomes," Coduto added.
The study found that people need to be aware of their dating app use and consider whether they have a problem.