With dating apps, we doubt them but won’t drop them

Colorful drawing of two hands, each holding a phone while using a dating app.

Americans doubt dating apps are the best way to find a successful relationship and they certainly don’t trust them – but they’re apparently unwilling to give up on apps like Match, Tinder and Hinge in the search for their true soulmate.

Those are some of the takeaways from the latest Media & Technology Survey designed by Boston University’s College of Communication and conducted by Ipsos earlier this month.

For every one respondent who agreed that “dating apps are the best way to find a successful relationship these days,” almost three disagreed (15% vs. 39%).

Further, respondents don’t fully trust what they read and see on dating apps. More than 60% of respondents agree that “most people lie on dating apps,” while only 4% disagree. Four times as many respondents agree than disagree that “dating apps are filled with too many machines posing as real people (known as chatbots) to be trusted” (39% vs. 11%).

The prospect of artificial intelligence technology improving dating apps didn’t seem to boost their confidence. Only one in six agreed that “dating apps that use AI, meaning computer-powered artificial intelligence, will lead to more successful relationships.”

Yet three times as many respondents agree than disagree that “people can find their soulmates on a dating app” (41% vs. 15%).

“Dating apps feel like they have so much potential for the people who use them. There is a sense that the ideal person is just one swipe away so you can’t give up, because what if?” says Kathryn Coduto, an assistant professor at Boston University College of Communication whose recent research has focused on dating apps technology.

“The proliferation of AI can make it feel even more uncertain, but for a lot of people, that’s no different from someone who lies in person, maybe about their job or their dating history,” Coduto adds. “Plus, dating apps still feel so easy. Your phone is with you all of the time; potential partners aren’t just a swipe away, but they are in your pocket. You don’t have to go out to find them. The ease can make it so hard to get rid of the apps.”

Roughly two-thirds of respondents have never used a dating app (63%), and that number is higher among women than men (69% vs. 57%).

Age, more than gender however, tended to affect the popularity of dating apps among respondents. Most young people, ages 18 to 34, are currently using or have used a dating app (59%), in contrast to respondents ages 35 to 54 (41%) and ages 55 or older (16%). Similarly, a majority of young people felt one can find a soulmate with dating apps (54%), in contrast to middle aged (43%) or older people (28%).

About the Media & Technology Survey

The Media & Technology Survey is an ongoing project of the Communication Research Center (CRC) at Boston University’s College of Communication, in partnership with Ipsos, the market research company. This month’s poll was conducted in English on February 6-7, 2023, using Ipsos eNation Omnibus, a nationally representative online survey that measures attitudes and opinions of 1,000 adults across the United States. This online survey has a credibility interval (CI) of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The data were weighted to the U.S. population data by region, gender, age, and education. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error.