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The influence of social motives to use online dating services on mental well-being : a gender comparison.

Tonhäuser, M J (2020) The influence of social motives to use online dating services on mental well-being : a gender comparison.

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Abstract:Introduction. Online dating services experienced increasing popularity over the last years resulting in more and more studies analysing different consequences and reasons for dating online. Regardless of the multiple reasons to use of such services, most common are social motivations such as looking for new friends, seeking a romantic relationship, or to engage in casual sex. The different social motives can lead to different outcomes e.g. success rate, therefore, influencing mental health of an individual. Since men and women have been found in past research to differ in their main motives to date online it could also influence a possible relationship between social motives and mental well-being. This study aims to find out 1)“Which social motive to use online dating results in the highest level of mental well-being?”; 2)“What gender differences can be found for the three most common social motives?”; 3)“Is the relationship between social motives and mental well-being moderated by gender?”. Methods. An online survey was carried out with 151 participants (63 males, 88 females) that filled out all the necessary items. The required items were the demographics, the social motives and well-being (assessed with the MHC-SF scale). For the first research question, a ‘One-way ANOVA’ was carried out to compute means and statistical significance of possible mean differences. For the second research question, a crosstabs table with a chi-square test was chosen to analyse gender differences for each social motive (‘friendship’, ‘romantic relationship’, ‘casual sex’). Lastly, a mean cantered moderator analysis was conducted to investigate a moderator effect on the relationship between casual sex and mental well-being. Results. The descriptives showed differences in the mental well-being level for all three social motives, however, these differences were not statistically significant (p = .610). Gender was found to be associated with social motives (X² (2, N = 151) = 22,772, p < .001) and gender differences existed for all three motives. The moderation analysis revealed that there was also no statistical significance for a moderator effect of gender (p = .562). Discussion. The findings that more men would date online for casual sex while women would look commonly for friendship and romantic relationship was in line with the expectations of previous research. However, the social motives of online dating users had no influence on their mental health. This might explain that social motives do not have a direct influence on mental health or that non-social motives are more suitable predictors. Furthermore, gender as a moderator did not influence the relationship between casual sex and mental well-being but a mediation model or another composition could be more applicable for the relationship between these three variables which are connected based on past research.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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