For men, the most popular reason was "when desiring sex". Picture: PxHere

London - They might be known as "dating apps". But it appears that many women who use them are not actually hoping to find a date.

Instead, they use apps such as Tinder simply to boost their self-esteem, research suggests - proving to themselves that men find them attractive without intending to ever meet their potential suitors.

Tinder allows users to swipe their phone screen to the right when they see a picture of someone they like, swipe left to reject them, and start conversations with potential matches.

READ: Women troll on dating apps just as often as men

Scientists studied 641 men and women aged between 19 and 29, about half of whom used dating apps. Asked their motivation for using them, women rated "wanting to feel good" around 25 percent more highly than "when desiring sex" and "when wanting a committed relationship". 

For men, the most popular reason was "when desiring sex".

Men also swiped right more often than women and were far more likely to make contact with matches, Norwegian Technical University researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Co-author Mons Bendixen said women liked being perceived as a potential partner by other users.