What effect can dating apps have on the brain? – News from Costa Rica

In BBC Three’s new series Planet Sex, model Cara Delevingne delved into what happens to our brains when we see images of people we find attractive. In one of the episodes, she herself came under scrutiny. His brain was monitored as he was shown images of people he recognized, acquaintances he found attractive to people he had long-term relationships with.

Cara’s brain functions were further illuminated when images of her serious past loves surfaced, and the results, said Dr. Bianca Acevedo, who led her brain scan, show that “love is a very strong. Even when the relationship isn’t great, there’s still a strong connection—you see intense reward activity in the brain.” “Love is basically a drug,” agreed Cara.

It’s no wonder that dating apps, a technology that helps us find love, are so popular. By 2022, the year pioneer Tinder celebrated its 10th anniversary, 323 million people worldwide were using it and similar apps, according to a recent study.

And they are “incredibly addictive”, according to psychologist and cultural consultant Zoe Mallett. “They give you the opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise know”, he points out, but adds that not everything is positive. While they can help you find love, because there’s so much screen time, “they can change the way you behave when you meet people in real life,” she says.

They rely on intermittent reinforcement, which Mallett defines as the “delivery of rewards at irregular intervals.” “Scientists associate it with gambling. It’s the addictive feeling of not always winning,” he explains.

That’s because if you find someone you’re attracted to and choose them, there’s no guarantee that the same will happen to them; so when the match occurs, the reward feels greater. “Uncertainty makes you more invested”, he explains, pointing out that even if you don’t have matches, you will want to ‘come back for more’. How do we feel when we use them? “It’s all about dopamine levels in the brain,” says the psychologist.

Similar to how we use social media, dating service designers want you to come back again and again. “They both tap into your brain’s muscle memory, so it’s the first thing you look for when you pick up the phone. Your brain will naturally go to a place it knows can make you feel good.”

And just like social media, dating apps are carefully designed to “cut you off from the rest of the world.” “They want you to wear your glasses when you use the app,” he says. Using carefully designed colors, fonts and language, they also focus on your emotional side. “When you see someone you like on an app, you can start to imagine a future with them. It’s not just about how they look, it’s also about the narrative they can create,” he explains.

Is it all about love?

Humans are constantly looking for validation, Mallett says, and that’s what dating apps appeal to, too. “When you have a match on a dating app, for a brief second, all your doubts can disappear.” Also, the feeling of “the unknown” keeps users hooked. “You never know who’s going to be next and that’s really exciting.”

But can this emotion turn into love? According to a YouGov study, 16% of global consumers aged 25-34 have met their partner through a mobile app.

For the psychologist, winning this jackpot is the result of a mixture of “luck” and “effort.” “If you spend a lot of time looking for love on a dating app, you’re more likely to find someone you like. But it’s also a matter of luck. Maybe you don’t like anyone in your area.”

Face to face meeting

Social media and dating apps have also changed the way we communicate in real life, Mallett argues. “Our reliance on technology has made it difficult for some people to hold a face-to-face conversation,” he says. “Now people can think they don’t have to expose themselves or get close to the people they see around, if at the end of the day they can go home and swipe, which is a lot less intimidating.”

So is it good to use them?

“Everything has good and bad parts,” Zoe says. “If you want to get to know your partner, they’re a good way to find out what you like or don’t like about them. They can also build your confidence, but I wouldn’t recommend relying on them as the only way to meet people.”

Also, he says, the way we use dating apps is starting to change. “Apps like Bumble and Thursday have started hosting in-person events, which is really cool because it brings app users out into a real-life environment.”

“(Creators of) apps are realizing that we still want to meet people in real life,” says Zoe. But he believes our obsession with them won’t diminish. “Human beings naturally like things that make our lives easier. Dating apps give us a hand, they make our lives easier. They are a solution. It is difficult to meet people; so it is not surprising that we like them so much”, he concludes.

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