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Investigating the relationship between freemium mobile dating applications and consumer self esteem

O'Keeffe, Ian (2020) Investigating the relationship between freemium mobile dating applications and consumer self esteem. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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Since they first emerged in the 1980s, mobile apps have been penetrating a wide range of industries, because of their ability to be monetised, and also because of the increasing customer demand for apps that are believed to make facets of an individuals lifestyle easier and more convenient. Whats more, the proliferation of smartphones on a global scale and the popularity of social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have driven societies dependence on mobile apps, especially in the lifestyle category.

In recent years, mobile apps have helped to accelerate and aid people’s individual's daily life routines by giving them the ability to connect instantly with things such as; nearby restaurants, new music at the touch of a button and the potential for romance with just one swipe of a finger. Mobile entrepreneurs have recognised the business opportunities apps provide and as a result, one of the most successful segments in the app marketplace is mobile dating apps. It is expected that the mobile app market will surpass $8.4 billion (7.2 billion euro) by 2024 and as the popularity of dating apps continue to surge, so does the concern that the obsessive use of these apps is leading to people’s self-esteem being impacted in a negative way.

For people who have grown up in the mobile-first era and the generations that follow, dating apps have become the most common way to meet people, giving them quick access to swipe and match with a nearby user. Yet, while these apps provide a helpful solution to a modern day dating problem, by signing up to these types of apps, users become vulnerable to a combination of social rejection and feelings of low self-esteem as the swiping game could affect how we perceive ourselves.

Unreciprocated swipes, interactions with fake profiles, physical comparisons to others, lack of good conversation, ghosting, potential suitors only looking for hook-ups and dishonesty with misrepresented photos / bios are all factors that can influence a person’s self-worth and the sheer quantity of profiles available coupled with time spent on these apps, mean that users are constantly bombarded with these dating app problems.

Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and Hinge are among some of the most popular mobile dating apps, which are free to download and used worldwide, while offering users the ability to make in-app purchases that grants access to premium features, that supposedly enhances the users chances of matching with a suitor. However there is little evidence to support how credible these paid-for features are in helping people achieve their dating-app goals. Additionally, as a lot of these premium features heavily rely on algorithms that promote the platforms most swiped or most physically attractive profiles, they could also negatively impact a person’s self-esteem.

This thesis seeks to examine how, if at all, self esteem is impacted in both unpaid and paid dating app users based on the customer experience of Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and Hinge, within an Irish context, in order to add to the literature and research that has already been done on this topic.

This is to understand if 1) the way we communicate on mobile dating apps fosters feelings of rejection or unworthiness and 2) if the types of dating app subscribers that are being examined expose self-esteem differences. To achieve this objective, the researcher used a quantitative approach by administering an online survey that was designed to gauge people’s attitudes towards unpaid and paid versions of these four dating apps and levels of self-esteem and body satisfaction.

The survey was administered to 203 respondents aged 18 and above who were, at the time of taking the survey, residing in Ireland. The key results of the survey found that self esteem did not differ by subscriber type (unpaid versus paid) and the majority of the respondents were found to have normal self-esteem levels. The survey pool were also largely satisfied with their appearance, however gender played a role in subscriber type with men being found to be more likely to become a paid subscriber of dating apps. Majority of the respondents also had previously been in a relationship with someone whom they met on a dating app, yet the consensus from our respondents is that they still find it hard to find someone who is looking for a relationship on dating apps.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > Marketing > Consumer Behaviour
Q Science > QA Mathematics > Computer software > Mobile Phone Applications
T Technology > T Technology (General) > Information Technology > Computer software > Mobile Phone Applications
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Science in Marketing
Depositing User: Dan English
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2021 15:52
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2021 15:52

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