A Crazy Satisfying Theory About Why You Love Swiping Right

Illustration for article titled A Crazy Satisfying Theory About Why You Love Swiping Right

Swipe, swipe, swipe. Hundreds of swipes every day on Tinder. I’m lonely, ok?! It turns out I’m not just desperate for love though. Tinder might be tapping into human psychology. Are we hardwired to swipe right?


Do I need to explain what Tinder is? It’s a dating app: When you swipe right, you’re saying “yes” to a potential mate. When you swipe left, you’re saying “I’m not interested.” If you and the other person both say yes, you’re both notified. It’s actually a very easy way to meet people and potentially get laid/married/herpes. The method for parsing a cascade of binary decisions has been applied to all kinds of problems, like categorizing good and bad photos.

It turns out that the whole swipe right schema could be much bigger than Tinder. Nautilus points us to an old commonly accepted theory about human psychology which suggests that movement from left to right connotes good in the minds of people who come from cultures where you write from left to right. It translates to everything from movies to video games, to possibly Tinder.

In the visual design of the app, Tinder’s founders capitalized on a bit of human psychology: It seems natural that a positive feeling should be indicated with a rightward swipe rather than a leftward one. In theater directing1, rightward motion is believed to be perceived by the audience as good, and leftward bad, and studies have backed it up. In the film “The Matrix,” most of the time Keanu Reeves’ character gets into a fight, he’s moving left to right on the screen, and his enemy is doing the opposite. Almost every video game ever made that scrolls to one direction has the player’s avatar moving left to right.

Aha! It’s a fun theory to consider. Very satisfying. It feels just as good as that rightward swipe. Oh yeah.


Image above from this post about a robot that swipes right for you.


Stupid | Clever

Tinderers: does Tinder provide you with any kind of metrics, i.e. the percent of right-v-left swipes you receive?