A dominant swipe : does ambivalent sexism impact young adults' engagement with dating applications? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Massey University Albany, New Zealand
Young adulthood can be a significant period of people’s lives, as focus begins to shift from adolescent development towards personal and relationship goals (Arnett, 2000). There has been much psychological research into the challenges and benefits of relationships. As relationship beliefs and technology have simultaneously developed over time, a growing need for research into relationship formation processes in a new technological era has arisen.
However, the research base on mobile dating applications and the possible psychological underpinnings driving their use is still very much a work in progress. There are likely many reasons that an individual may come to use dating applications. One factor that may play a role in this is a set of complementary beliefs suggested to impact young adults’ intimate relationships; ambivalent sexism. There has been some limited research on sexism and dating applications; the primary aim of the current study was to investigate potential links between ambivalent sexism and dating application use.
There is a common perception that dating applications are used merely for ‘hook-ups’ or casual sex. However, it appears that this is not always the case; consequently, interpersonal dynamics impacting relationship formation are likely to be involved. As such, a secondary aim of this thesis was to investigate whether motivations for dating application use played a moderating role in the relationship between ambivalent forms of sexism and young adults’ dating application use.
The current study employed a pre-registered cross-sectional quantitative design with 998 individuals aged between 18 and 35 years. Individuals were asked whether they had ever used a dating application, as well as completing shortened versions of validated measures of ambivalent sexism and dating application motives. Multiple statistical analyses were employed to explore the relationships between individuals’ dating application use, and their endorsement of hostile and benevolent sexism. This study additionally tested for possible moderating relationships including dating application motives.
Overall, there was no support for eleven of the twelve pre-registered hypotheses analysed within the current study. Moreover, there was extremely limited support for the assertion that hostile or benevolent sexism were related to dating application use. Some interesting minor findings did emerge. The effect of individuals’ hostile sexism endorsement on the odds of dating application use became more positive and significant as their endorsement of sexual experience motives increased. Moreover, exploratory analyses revealed that heterosexual women who endorsed benevolent sexism more strongly were more likely to use dating applications as endorsement of relationship seeking motives increased. The results of the current study thus suggest that under certain specific circumstances, ambivalent sexism may be relevant to some young adults’ dating application use. However, there does not appear to be any evidence that ambivalent sexism more broadly plays a significant role in shaping young adults’ dating application use.