To be successful at dating in the modern world, people should spread their legs. Scientists have discovered displaying a dominant and expansive body language during a date increases the probability of finding a partner.
Their study, published in PNAS, is based on two large field experiments, involving modern dating practices, such as speed dating or partner selection through a dating app. In both cases, the scientists note that the choice of the person, and the success of the encounter were often decided in a very short amount of time.
This suggests that the attraction between two people is driven by very simple, physical mechanisms. To investigate further, the researchers decided to study body language, and how the position of the body into space affected the outcome of a date.
Open postures attract "yes"
In a first experiment, the scientists looked at 144 speed dates which were recorded on video. At the end of each four-minute date, each person decided if they wanted to see the other again. During that time, the scientists recorded behaviours related to attraction, love and dominance.
Seating in an dominant and open manner, including a stretched torso and widespread limbs, best predicted the chance of the person getting a positive outcome at the end of the date. The scientists concluded that perceived dominance is a mechanism by which people can increase their attractiveness.
Dominant and sharing attitudes
To examine the correlation between posture, dominance, and date outcome further, the team conducted a second experiment. They created 6 different profiles for a smartphone dating app. Each profile was created in two versions: on the first, the person was photographed in a expansive posture, while on the second, his or her position was more compressed and inward looking.
When the profiles were published on the dating app, those with the "expansive posture" pictures ended up receiving more "yes". More importantly, these pictures also received higher rates for measures of dominance and openness, two characteristics associated to a willingness to share resources with their date.
According to the scientists, both open and dominant non-verbal attitudes provide an explanation as to why expansive postures appear more attractive, and led to more success in the world of modern dating. Their message is simple: only subtle changes to their body language are needed to make a significant difference during a romantic encounter.