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A Prototype Willingness Approach to the Relation Between Geo-social Dating Apps and Willingness to Sext with Dating App Matches

Abstract

Despite voiced concerns about sexual online risk behaviors related to mobile dating, little is known about the relation between mobile dating and sexting. The current cross-sectional study (N = 286) examined the relations between the use of geo-social dating apps and emerging adults’ willingness to sext with a dating app match. By drawing on the prototype willingness model, both a reasoned path and a social reaction path are proposed to explain this link. As for the reasoned path, a structural equation model showed that more frequent dating app usage is positively related to norm beliefs about peers’ sexting behaviors with unknown dating app matches (i.e., descriptive norms), norm beliefs about peers’ approval of sexting with matches (i.e., subjective norms), and negatively related to perceptions of danger to sext with matches (i.e., risk attitude). In turn, descriptive norms were positively and risk attitudes were negatively associated with individuals’ own willingness to sext with someone they had met through a dating app. As for the social reaction path, it was found that more frequent dating app usage was positively related to emerging adults’ favorable evaluations of a prototype person who sexts with unknown dating app matches (i.e., prototype perceptions). The analyses further revealed that such prototype perceptions positively linked with emerging adults’ own willingness to sext with a match. These results were similar among women and men and help explain why individuals may be willing to engage in sexting behavior with unknown others.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The current study uses data that were part of a larger project that examined geo-social dating app usage among emerging adults. More information about the project can be obtained by sending an e-mail to the corresponding author.

  2. 2.

    Concerning the measurement description of sexual orientation, the participants were asked about their attractions to “boys/girls” and not “men/women.” This phrasing is commonly accepted in the local translation when emerging adults are the referent group. Hence, we chose to keep this phrasing in the English translation.

  3. 3.

    Note that these scales were developed and questioned in Dutch. These scales were translated in English by the authors.

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Appendix

Appendix

Measures of Dating App Use

The questions below are newly developed measures to assess dating app use, and all items (Q) and answer categories (A) are provided.Footnote 3


Q1. Do you use Tinder or have you ever used Tinder?


A: Yes, I use Tinder; Yes, I have used Tinder but not anymore; No, I don’t use Tinder but I have once downloaded a different dating app; No, I don’t use Tinder and I have never downloaded a different dating app.


Q2. Have you ever downloaded a dating app which was not Tinder? [question displayed when the respondent indicated (1) Yes, I use Tinder or (2) Yes, I have used Tinder but not any more]


A: Yes; No.


Q3. Which dating app have you downloaded (multiple answers are possible)? [question displayed when the respondent indicated “Yes” on the question if she/he has ever downloaded a dating app which was not Tinder]


A: Happn; Grindr; Badoo; Blendr; Bumble, Clover; FlirtSmart; GuySpy; Her; Hornet; Hot or Not; Inner Circle; Jack’d; Jaumo; Lexa; Mint; OKCupid; Pepper; Pure; Scruff; Skout; Twoo; A different one, namely…


Q4. Do you still use one of these apps?


A: Yes; not any longer.


Q5. Which dating app do you use the most often? [question displayed when they indicated at the previous question to be current users]


A: Tinder; Happen; Grindr; Badoo; Blendr; Bumble; Clover; FlirtSmart; GuySpy; Her; Hornet; Hot or Not; Inner Circle; Jack’d; Jaumo; Lexa; Mint; OKCupid; Pepper; Pure; Scruff; Skout; Twoo; A different one, namely…


Q6. Which dating app did you use the most often? [question displayed when they indicated at the previous question to be former users]


A: Tinder; Happen; Grindr; Badoo; Blendr; Bumble; Clover; FlirtSmart; GuySpy; Her; Hornet; Hot or Not; Inner Circle; Jack’d; Jaumo; Lexa; Mint; OKCupid; Pepper; Pure; Scruff; Skout; Twoo; A different one, namely…


Q7. How often have you used Tinder on average in the past six months? [question displayed for current Tinder users who use Tinder the most often of all dating apps]


A: Never; almost never; about once a month; multiple times a month; about once a week; multiple times a week; once a day; multiple times a day; I check Tinder during the whole day.


Q8. When you think about the last six months of usage, how often did you use Tinder on average? [question displayed for former Tinder users who used Tinder the most often of all dating apps]


A: Never; almost never; about once a month; multiple times a month; about once a week; multiple times a week; once a day; multiple times a day; I checked Tinder during the whole day.


Q9. How often have you used X [the app they indicated to use the most often which is not Tinder] on average in the past six months? [question displayed for current dating app users]


A: Never; almost never; about once a month; multiple times a month; about once a week; multiple times a week; once a day; multiple times a day; I check the app during the whole day.


Q10. How often have you used X [the app they indicated to use the most often which is not Tinder] on average in the past six months? [question displayed for current dating app users]


A: Never; almost never; about once a month; multiple times a month; about once a week; multiple times a week; once a day; multiple times a day; I checked the app during the whole day.

Measures of Descriptive Norms


Q1. We would like to know more about your male friends’ experiences with dating apps such as Tinder. How many of your friends have exchanged sexy photos with a dating app match (e.g., a Tinder match)? [question displayed for men]


A: Nobody; less than half; more or less the half; more than half; all of them.


Q2. We would like to know more about your female friends’ experiences with dating apps such as Tinder. How many of your friends have exchanged sexy photos with a dating app match (e.g., a Tinder match)? [question displayed for women]


A: Nobody; less than half; more or less the half; more than half; all of them.

Measures of Subjective Norms


Q1. According to you, what do your male friends think of exchanging sexy photos with someone you have met through a dating app (e.g., a Tinder match)? [question displayed for men]


A: They fully disapprove this; they disapprove this; they disapprove this a little bit; they neither approve, neither disapprove it; they approve this a little bit; they approve this; they fully approve this.


Q2. According to you, what do your female friends think of exchanging sexy photos with someone you have met through a dating app (e.g., a Tinder match)? [question displayed for women]


A: They fully disapprove this; they disapprove this; they disapprove this a little bit; they neither approve, neither disapprove it; they approve this a little bit; they approve this; they fully approve this.

Measures of Attitudes


Q1. Dating apps like Tinder: dangerous or not for men? Attention please. These questions are about men of your age who use a dating app. How dangerous is it for a man to exchange sexy photos with a woman through a dating app, e.g., with a Tinder match? [question displayed for men]


A: Not dangerous at all; not dangerous; neither dangerous, neither not dangerous; dangerous; very dangerous.


Q2. Dating apps like Tinder: dangerous or not for women? Attention please. These questions are about women of your age who use a dating app. How dangerous is it for a woman to exchange sexy photos with a man through a dating app, e.g., with a Tinder match? [question displayed for women]


A: Not dangerous at all; not dangerous; neither dangerous; neither not dangerous; dangerous; very dangerous.

Measures of Prototype Perceptions


Q1. Imagine a man of your age who sends sexy photos to a match on a dating app, like Tinder. We would like to know which characteristics do you think are indicative for this man. A man who sends sexy photos through a dating app like Tinder is (1) attractive; (2) interesting; (3) desired [question displayed for men]


A: Totally not true; not true; a little bit not true; neither true; neither not true; a little bit true; true; totally true.


Q2. Imagine a woman of your age who sends sexy photos to a match on a dating app, like Tinder. We would like to know which characteristics do you think are indicative for this woman. A woman who sends sexy photos through a dating app like Tinder is… (1) attractive; (2) interesting; (3) desired [question displayed for women]


A: Totally not true; not true; a little bit not true; neither true, neither not true; a little bit true; true; totally true.

Measure of Willingness to Sext


Q1. Imagine that you meet someone on a dating app like Tinder with whom you exchange flirtatious messages; this person is highly sexually attractive. How likely is it that you would send the following photos of yourself to this Tinder match? (1) photos of yourself in a sexy pose but without naked body parts; (2) photos of yourself in underwear or swimwear; (3) nude photos.


A: Highly unlikely; unlikely; a bit unlikely; neither likely, neither unlikely; a bit likely; highly likely.

Measures for Sociodemographics


Q1. [For gender] What is your gender?


A: Woman; man.


Q2. [For age] How old are you in years? (Please write a number)


Q3. [For sexual orientation] Are you attracted to boys or girls?


A: Only to boys; mainly to boys, but also to girls; equally to boys and girls; mainly to girls, but also to boys; only to girls; I don’t want to indicate the answer.


Q4. [For relationship status] Do you currently have a committed relationship, or a romantic, serious relationship with someone?


A: Yes, I have a committed relationship, but we did not meet each other through a dating app or the internet; yes, I have a committed relationship, and we have met each other through a dating app or the Internet; No, I don’t have a committed relationship.

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Schreurs, L., Sumter, S.R. & Vandenbosch, L. A Prototype Willingness Approach to the Relation Between Geo-social Dating Apps and Willingness to Sext with Dating App Matches. Arch Sex Behav 49, 1133–1145 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01671-5

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Keywords

  • Dating apps
  • Sexting
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Prototype willingness model