So when a neutral action (clicking on Grindr) is paired with a pleasurable response in the brain (orgasm), humans learn to do that action over and over again.
It’s a small sample size, but enough to give us some clues about how Grindr is affecting gay men. The most common reason users gave for going on the app is that sex feels great and Grindr makes it accessible, right at your fingertips. With a few clicks, there’s a possibility of meeting a sexual partner within the hour.
Just last week, Grindr announced that it will start sending users HIV testing reminders and the addresses of local testing sites (on an opt-in basis).
In less pleasant news, Buzz Feed revealed on Monday that Grindr has also been sharing the HIV status of its users with third-party companies.
Neuroscientists have shown that orgasm causes activation of pleasure areas of the brain like the ventral tegmental area while deactivating areas involved with self-control.
And these patterns of activation in men are strikingly similar to what researchers see in the brain of individuals using heroin or cocaine.