The scourge of public transport from New York to London, manspreading might help you get dates, a new study into modern dating practices has found. The researchers saw that both genders fared better at speed-dating and Tinder-style app dating when they adopted dominant, expansive postures.

This positive effect of spreading your limbs runs counter to the current campaigns against manspreading on public transport. Simply put, manspreading is when some men sit with their legs stretched open on public transport, taking up much more space than necessary and making it uncomfortable or impossible for others to takes seats next to them.

Social media campaigns to shame manspreaders garnered so much traction that the Metropolitan Transport Authority, the organisation that runs the New York Subway, unveiled adverts at the end of 2014 aimed at stopping people from taking up more space than they need.

Manspreading ad from New York subway
Adverts on the New York Subway highlighting the issueMetropolitan Transportation Authority

Blogs such as Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train and others carry pictures sent in by readers of men spreading themselves over seats – the Tumblr site also carries a subtitle calling manspreading "a classic among public assertions of privilege", though others argue that it is simply a comfort issue.

The dating study published in PNAS suggests that these expansive postures make the dating candidate "appear more dominant" – and in a world of quick-decision speed dating and apps where people make split-second decisions based on a few photographs, perceived dominance can be the difference between a right and left swipe.

Making the leap from neologism, manspreading was even added to the online Oxford dictionary in August 2015, where it has the definition: "The practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats." Early that year, two men in New York were even arrested for the offence, the judge gave them an "adjournment contemplating dismissal", meaning that the charges are dropped as long as the men are not rearrested within a certain amount of time.

But campaigns against manspreading are not simply a 21st-century phenomenon, with the New York Transit Museum mentioning that its new exhibition on Transit Etiquette includes posters that discourage the act of manspreading from yjr 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

New or not, the issue is still current, with searches of the manspreading hashtag on Twitter still bringing up pictures from public transport all over the world.