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About 22 per cent of straight couples and 67 per cent of gay couples now meet online.These days, 59 per cent of Americans believe online dating is a good way to meet people, while just 23 per cent think users are desperate.Like pigeons, our swiping behaviour is reinforced – as in we keep swiping – when we don’t know when our next reward will come, if at all. Tinder’s Chief Strategy Officer Jonathan Badeen admitted last year that the swiping feature was inspired by a 1948 experiment by Burrhus Frederic Skinner.The psychologist used positive reinforcement to train pigeons to peck more, and in particular patterns, in the belief that the amount and way they pecked optimised the delivery of food.But despite such countless options, an increasing proportion of the UK is single.The number of single people has risen by 31 per cent in the past 15 years.

There’s a reason why the people who have swiped right on you don’t appear consecutively at the beginning of an app session.“It’s funny,” she says, “because being single is your natural state but being in a relationship is an add-on to you, so it’s quite odd that the reverse is considered more unusual.” While dating apps enable us to bypass the serendipity of “true love” and instead to actively seek the perfect relationship, what keeps many of us engaged, once drawn in, is a phenomenon that breeds inefficiency in the search.The psychologist Michael Zeiler found in 1971 that pigeons peck at a button nearly twice as much when it produces food pellets at an unpredictable frequency than when the rewards are foreseeable.It is true that many very unhappy people are single: more than 41 per cent of UK adults who report the lowest levels of well-being., in which he describes love and marriage as “narrative traps”.

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