Tinder, a dating app, requires users to swipe right or left to indicate they like someone (right) or not (left). New research designed with Tinder in mind finds the direction and orientation of profile pictures may influence how users swipe.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research discovered that if something looks to the right, people are more likely to swipe right and vice-versa. Students from Ghent University (Belgium) were shown images of toys, pictograms, shoes and gadgets to verify findings.

“We have the tendency to always swipe in the direction of the image because it is active in our minds and this study shows there is spillover to the motor neurons in our brain,” says  Mario Pandelaere a Virginia Tech associate professor. “Since we don't currently understand how orientation affects our behavior and evaluations, this study is the first to show how it can influence us.”

“This has ramifications at the behavioral level because we are seeing no change in the evaluation, just directional swiping. So marketers can use this to steer people to liking something more than something else, like products that are more profitable for them.”

About Pandelaere

Mario Pandelaere is an associate professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.  For over a decade he has researched materialism, decision-making, well being, and social influence. He also teaches classes on social influence, consumer behavior, and marketing. Read his full bio here.

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