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UW Tacoma Associate Professor Riki Thompson is researching self-constructed identity, communication, and language in the age of technology and online dating apps. She has been conducting this research for about a year, though the idea has been brewing for nearly four. Thompson became curious about dating and social media after she entered the world of online dating herself and noticed trends in the types of profiles that people were using to sell themselves.

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Recent study attracting press attention says students use the app to make friends. Some experts doubt it. But is it possible students are also using Tinder not for sex but to find friends? More than half of college students in a recent survey said they were using Tinder and other dating apps but mostly Tinder to find friends, not hookups. Only 20 percent of the students surveyed by campus jobs start-up WayUp said they used the app for casual sex, and less than a third said they were looking for a ificant other.

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Is that really true? More than half? The study made the rounds in the news. Students are already surrounded by lo of people their own age with similar interests and plenty of opportunity to interact, she explained -- a near-perfect petri dish for incubating friendships.

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Dating apps and sites provide an alternative. It can also be anything from kissing to intercourse on the sexual spectrum. My guess is that when college students use Tinder, they don't know exactly what they want -- or what they'll find. So, they may say on surveys that they are open to many different possibilities, including just making some new friends who they may or may not actually hook up with.

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There also may be a stigma at play, she said, against specifying exactly what someone may be looking for. On a statistically useless, purely anecdotal level, platonic Tinder use has been attempted. Unsuccessfully, however.

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Tinder users are on Tinder to meet people for all kinds of reasons. Sure, some of them -- men and women -- want to hook up.

Looking for love on campus: best dating apps for college students

But research about how and why people are using dating sites and apps is all over the place and often contradictory. In her articleDewey rounds up a of studies and papers with differing conclusions including one that looked at the same data set Paul did for her research but found a far rosier outcome namely that relationship quality and strength is similar online and off.

For now, the verdict is apparently still out as to how many colleges students are searching for which kind of companionship on Tinder. At least some are getting a little free food out of it, though. We have retired comments and introduced Letters to the Editor.

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