Government Spent Over $400K on Studying Grindr

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday January 22, 2015

Dating ups have revolutionized the way gay men meet each other. But is it at a (costly) cost?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent more than $400,000 on studying gay hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The government gave Columbia University $432,000 to interview gay men who use hookup apps in order to find out whether frequenting these apps will increase their likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior.

"Smartphone technologies have provided a new venue for sexual partnering among men who have sex with men (MSM)," the grant for the project reads. "Indeed, there are a rapidly growing number of smartphone applications designed to facilitate sexual partnering among MSM."

The project argues that hookup apps like Grindr that use GPS has "accelerated" the rate at which gay men can find other dudes to hook up with.

"Furthermore, given the expediency with which men are able to arrange sexual encounters using these applications, there is cause to question if, when, and how sexual negotiation and serostatus disclosure occurs," the grant reads. "The overall study goal is to understand how sexual risk behaviors among MSM may be facilitated by the nature of GPS-enabled smartphone applications, the way they are used, and the process by which sexual partnering occurs via smartphone applications."

Karolynn Siegel, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia, is leading the study and told the Beacon she is currently analyzing the data and that funding for the project expired in December.

Siegel and her team interviewed 60 gay men who have used hookup apps to meet sexual partners in the last three months.

The Beacon notes that the study is also looking at the sexual arousal level of gay men when they use the apps.

"Investigate the sexual and emotional states (e.g., more/less urgency, arousal, impulsivity) that MSM experience when seeking or meeting sexual partners using smartphone applications and gain insights into how these states may contribute to sexual risk behaviors," the grant reads.