Decoding the Tinder Algorithm

Decoding the Tinder Algorithm

For all intents and purposes, I find Tinder fascinating. It has fundamentally changed the workings of the sexual marketplace and if you are single, you simply have to take notice of it, even if you have vowed never to create a Tinder profile.

To me the most fascinating thing about Tinder is its algorithm, which of course is not publically known. But we can speculate; and Tinder’s staff has made certain info available for us through interviews.

Last year Tinder’s CEO Sean Rad admitted to Fast Company’s Austin car in this interview that Tinder has a scoring system where you are rated against other users. Interestingly the score does not measure “attractiveness” as such, but rather “desirability”. Which makes totally sense since attractiveness is something that is very hard to define (although science can tell us a lot about what people in general find attractive, but more about this another time).

You see, on Tinder desirability is not only measured by how many people swipe right on you; it is also measured by your own behavior!

To some degree, however, Tinder still works like “hot or not”. If a lot of people swipe right on you, your rating will be higher while less people swiping right on you will affect your rating negatively. This works the same way as the conventional dating market. Its supply and demand at its best.

Say you swipe right to nearly everyone, though. I used to do that and studies have shown that there is a tendency for men to do just this. This also works like in real life. If you are openly less selective, that will tend to lower your own value.

Generally, Tinder would want to match people of high desirability with other people of high desirability and people with lower desirability with other people of lower desirability. Everyone wants someone who are highly desirable but it goes without saying that someone who are highly desirable would not want someone who is not. Remember that desirability is measured on a number of factors, not only physical attractiveness!

Besides being more selective about who you swipe right to there are a number of other things you can do to improve your desirability score.

Obviously, you should work on your profile photos and your text. I don’t want to get into what constitutes a good profile photo and a good profile text here because that depends on your end goal, but I’ll say one thing: it is absolutely vital that you try to be as honest and authentic as possible!

Putting forth an image of yourself that is not completely true will get you more matches, but when you chat or go out with these people, they will see right through your tactics. Better be authentic. In general, I think we tend to put too much effort into working on our self-presentation than into actually working on ourselves these days.

So your checklist of things to do should include more selective swiping, better photos, and a better profile text.

Now, you should also be aware that how many of your matches you write too will also affect your overall score or rating. How much are you worth to someone who matched you in excitement only for you to never contact them?

I don’t think this is a huge factor because in the end we can only have so many conversations going at one time, but I think it matters a lot for men especially. Basically, Tinder would want to reward men who display traits that are attractive to women because it’ll give the woman a better experience (and vice versa).

An article that I’ll not reference advised the reader to just write everyone they match if only because of the algorithm. I think this is faulty logic and I am sure that Tinder has considered the quality of a person’s chats when tweaking the algorithm.

So if you were to take only one (okay two) things from this post its to be selective about who you match and be proactive about writing those people you do match (but only write as many as you can actually handle having a solid chat with).

Jakob Scheel

Jakob Scheel

Jakob is a Copenhagen-based Anthropologist who does Project Management by day and Photography by night.
Jakob Scheel

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5 Replies to “Decoding the Tinder Algorithm”

  1. Hi Jakob, here’s Jessica.
    I found interesting your article about Tinder, it’s always helpful knowing the functioning of these dating apps… I agree about being selective. Can I ask you what was your experience with this app? Did you match with different girls or there was a “pattern” in the types of girls that matched you? I’m asking because I noticed that there’s somehow a correspondance with the men/women that we usually meet, and some themes that are guiding us through some periods of life.
    And it’s curious, because sometimes I think that life itself has an algorithm for the persons we meet 🙂
    How’d you think about that?
    Thanks. Waiting for the updates.

  2. Hi Jessica, thanks for being the first person to comment since my relaunch of the blog!
    You might have to elaborate on your question, though, since I am not sure I got it right. I have extensive experience with Tinder and who I have matched with has depended on several factors, among these what type of relationship I was looking for at the time, my growing knowledge of how Tinder works, and indeed what you describe as themes guiding us through periods of life. The most important thing I have learned is that you get what you give, that is that you’ll mainly attract someone similar to what you display of yourself, if that makes sense. Personally, I now try to be as authentic as possible in the presentation of myself, whether online or not, and I think that is the best way to find true love (this should be obvious, but look at how in-authentically many are presenting themselves on social media). When I was more vague about my values there would be no pattern at all, but now there is a pattern in the sense that the girls I match with these days share a lot of my own values, but at the same time I attract a wider range of people than before. Could you maybe tell me a bit more about what you mean when you say that life has an algorithm for the person we meet?

  3. Hi Jakob, I’ve just read your reply!
    I think you get quite well what I was trying to say. I have experienced in some ways, the same things you had. However, I was surprised when I noticed that I got exactly what I was looking for. For example, at the beginning I was looking for someone to chat and flirt with. Then, after some months, I wasn’t really looking for someone to know: I was looking for someone to hang out with, and I got that. But my matches were all boring, like I was bored at that time by my actual “social circle”.
    I think that in “real life” it happens the same, with friendships for example.
    The more you are conscious about yourself, about what you are and what you’re looking for, the more you’ll meet people who can make you feel just comfortable in their company.
    I hope I explained myself well, English can be tricky for me ^^

  4. I think we get exactly the thing we PERMIT ourselves to be looking for. You said it yourself, if the matches were boring, maybe you were too at the time? I have very high expectations, which I think is a general problem, actually. You should a) only have as high expectations as you are able to give back (you cannot expect people to be more for you than you for them) and consequently you should b) strive to live up to the vision you have for yourself. I think we can all be the person we want to be, it just takes a lot of work.

  5. By the way, I think your english is great! I am also not a native speaker so I know that its difficult to make your thoughts clear when its not your mother tongue. The bigger problem with a lot of communication though (I think) is that we interpret the things that we want to interpret and not what was originally intended.

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