Is This Why Tinder’s Swiping System Is So Popular?


The success of Tinder’s swiping mechanism could be tapping into an age-old law of human psychology.

The theory states that for certain cultures, movement from left to right gives people a positive feeling.

Writing on Nautilus, Jim Davies, an associate professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, said this apparently comes from cultures which write from left to right, where it has been ingrained into their psyche as a positive motion.

Davies notes that this movement has long been used by both film and theatre directors.

In theatre, movement from right to left is generally perceived by the audience to be positive, and the opposite perceived as bad.

As Davies says: “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. (Jungle Hunt is the only side-scroller game I know of that has exclusively right-to-left scrolling; in some others, you go both directions.) Studies even show that referees call more fouls on players moving left in their visual fields.”

And apparently the psychological connotations of this movement only appear when humans start writing.

As professor Davies says, studies have shown these positive feelings are not present in children who cannot read, or in cultures which write from right to left.

While it is unlikely Tinder had any knowledge of this specific theory, it is probable that the movement felt natural – and it certainly seems that way when you open up the app, but perhaps this isn’t the same for people from different cultures.