Grindr, intentionally or not, also leverages a psychological concept called variable ratio reinforcement, in which rewards for clicking come at unpredictable intervals.
You may find a hookup immediately, or you may be on your phone for hours before you find one.
A staggering number of gay men suffer from depression, with some estimates as high as 50 percent.
Because gay men’s anxiety and depression often stem from childhood rejection for being gay, messages of affirmation from other gay men are particularly appealing.
(The company later said it would stop sharing the information.) Though there is this new attention to sexual health, both Grindr and the research community have been silent on mental health.
Yet since 2007, more gay men have died from suicide than from HIV.
Today in Boston, two men can walk down the street holding hands without consequence.
But I’m worried by the rise of the underground digital bathhouse.
And these patterns of activation in men are strikingly similar to what researchers see in the brain of individuals using heroin or cocaine.One user told me that he feels so bad after a hookup that he jumps right back on the app, continuing the cycle until he is so tired he falls asleep.Every once in a while, he deletes the app, but he finds himself downloading it the next time he feels rejected or alone.Apps like Grindr, with 3 million daily active users, and others like Scruff and Jack’d, are designed to help gay men solicit sex, often anonymously, online.I am all for sexual liberation, but I can’t stop wondering if these apps also have a negative effect on gay men’s mental health.Now imagine a slot machine that rewards you with an orgasm at unpredictable intervals.This is potentially a powerful recipe for addiction and may explain why one user I spoke with stays on Grindr for up to 10 hours at a time, hoping to find the perfect partner for casual sex.Since there’s little published research on the men using Grindr, I decided to conduct an informal survey and ask men why they’re on the app so much and how it’s affecting their relationships and mental health.I created a profile identifying myself as a medical writer looking to talk to men about their experiences.This suggests it’s time we start thinking about Grindr’s health effects more broadly.Other dating apps, like Tinder, for example, are now the subject of early research looking at mental health implications. For some users I talked to, the allure of Grindr was not just the rush to feel good. Users told me they log on when they feel sad, anxious, or lonely. The attention and potential for sex distract from painful emotions.