If you haven’t had much luck in the romance department lately, you may want to pay attention to your posture and the way you take up space.
A new study on speed dating and Tinder-style online dating apps found that people became more appealing when they stretched themselves out: extending their torso, pushing out those legs and spreading those arms wide.
These expansive positions reflect dominance and openness, which isn’t unlike how posture reigns supreme in mating and attraction in the animal kingdom.
The team of Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk, a human behavior student at the University of California, Berkley, analyzed videos of 144 speed dates from an event held in Northwestern University in 2007. The event alternately paired 12 males and 12 females in four-minute sessions each, with dates reporting their interest level based on various categories.
Experts who are unaware of the experiment’s objectives also graded every video. They are trained in knowing behaviors that are linked to romantic attraction, such as smiling, nodding and laughing.
A separate online experiment, held in the Bay Area in California, used a free mobile dating app that works like Tinder. Almost 3,000 participants said “yes” or “no” to profiles containing only a photo and the user’s first name and age, but appearing either with open postures or with contracted postures.
On a third platform, the researchers recruited over 800 individuals to accomplish a quick attractiveness survey based on one of 12 photo collages of people’s expanded and contracted profile images.
The findings appeared similar across the three experiments and genders: daters can benefit from being a little bit more expansive, which contradicts traditional views of females preferring dominant partners, and men seeking submissive ones. These open postures could score daters greater chances for a second date.
“We do know from past research that having an open posture communicates a lot. Confidence, high self-esteem, being open, and being relaxed. Doing this over the course of a date can be beneficial,” the lead author told Medical Daily.
The findings add to the growing scientific research on how body language affects perceptions of attractiveness. In a 2007 study, for instance, keeping the torso open toward others implied availability and interest, while concealed positions of hands make one less trustworthy.
With a staggering 91 million people worldwide looking for love through online apps today, first impressions may indeed last and become more important than ever. Consider subtle yet powerful nonverbal cues crucial as well.
“Speed dating paradigms and online app paradigms are creating these situations where for dating we are forced to rely more on these instincts because time is so limited,” Vacharkulksemsuk reminds in a Smithsonian interview, noting how people are forced into making quick judgments on others based on limited information.
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Sarah JCB | Flickr