Tinder: Communicating Desirability Online

Katherine Caron Hickert


For many of my friends at college, meeting potential dates has become a new challenge since the dating pool has expanded tremendously and dating behaviors have changed extremely. Many college students have turned to a new dating app called Tinder to meet new people. It is unique because, unlike traditional dating sites that require information about height, weight, financial status, etc., it relies exclusively on photos and short descriptions in order to find a potential date. In order to observe Tinder profiles, I conducted a virtual ethnography, during which I had to create my own Tinder profile. Once my profile was complete, I conducted 265 detailed observations of individual UNC heterosexual male Tinder profiles in which I described all pictures from the different profiles I observed. I noted clothing, setting, facial expression, presence of other people, and any other miscellaneous factors in order to recognize trends that were existent. Based on my observations, I noted that, through their pictures, many heterosexual male users at UNC choose photos that display attractiveness, sociability, and wealth in order to attract potential female matches.


Tinder; online dating; desirability; virtual ethnography; ethnography

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