However, younger individuals, aged between 20 and 39 years, considered sexual attraction more important than older individuals (75+ years old)

However, younger individuals, aged between 20 and 39 years, considered sexual attraction more important than older individuals (75+ years old)

In terms of individuals’ motives, there appear to be many possibilities as to why people date online. In a study of 5434 respondents, Menkin et al. (2015) found that participants generally emphasised interpersonal communication over sex appeal, with women placing greater importance on social interaction, whereas men considered sexual attraction more important than women across all ages. Conversely, if users were concerned about their own personal information, health and privacy, then their desire for uncertainty decreased. Therefore, it may be argued that those young users who are looking for casual sex encounters put themselves at higher risk than those who are not looking for sex. This hypothesis is discussed in a later section.

Emphasising sexual attraction, in a study with 62 young men using an all-male dating app (mean age = years), Corriero and Tong (2016) identified that casual sex goals were related with desire for uncertainty

In more general terms, online daters search for companionship, comfort after a life crisis, control over the presentation of oneself to others, to refrain from commitment and societal boundaries, new experiences, and romantic fantasies (Lawson and Leck 2006). In relation to control over self-presentation, it has been claimed that individuals with high rejection–sensitivity tend to feel more comfortable to express themselves in the online medium, and those who feel more comfortable expressing themselves online are found to score higher on online dating use (Hance et al. 2018). One of the reasons for high rejection–sensitive individuals to engage more in the online dating arena may be related to feeling less constrained to show themselves (i.e. ‘true self’), identifying less difficulties in the online context. Nonetheless, it appears that common features in online dating like the absence of time limits (i.e. asynchronous communication) and selective self-presentation facilitate ). In a study of secondary survey data from 4002 US participants, Paul (2014) found that couples who met online had higher split up rates in comparison to partners who met offline. Arguably, typical features of online dating services and apps such as asynchronous communication and selective self-presentation may negatively affect the quality of a long-term relationship between two online daters. Consequently, further studies are needed in the form of longitudinal designs that would help establish the causes that affect the quality of relationships initiated via online dating services.

Overall, the results of this subsection show that the use of online dating platforms is widespread and has grown rapidly in the past few years. In terms of use, younger adult men appear to be the most prevalent users of online dating services. In terms of motivations to use online dating, men favour sex appeal more compared to women. Regarding psychological characteristics, it appears that high sociability and high rejection–sensitivity are associated with higher use of online dating services. The studies reviewed suggest that there are some features in online dating services (i.e. sites and apps) that could enhance the chances of deception and decrease the quality of long-term relationships. Nonetheless, there are some methodological weaknesses (e.g. the use of non-validated psychometric instruments, and non-representative samples) that should be amended in future research so that the internal and external validity of these findings are increased. As to the design, the research should consider longitudinal approaches to help establish the direction of causality (i.e. is relationship quality affected by online dating or are there underlying factors that directly affect relationship quality).

Personality Correlates

Considering the association that exists between specific personality correlates and patterns of use, a total of seven studies (Blackhart et al. 2014; Chan 2017; Chin et al. 2019; Clemens et al. 2015; Hall et al. 2010; Peter and Valkenburg 2007; Sumter and Vandenbosch 2019) were found and reviewed focusing on the association of personality traits and use of online dating services. All the studies assessed used quantitative and cross-sectional methods.