Dominant, open nonverbal displays are attractive at zero-acquaintance

Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk*, Emily Reit, Poruz Khambatta, Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel, Dana R. Carney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Across two field studies of romantic attraction, we demonstrate that postural expansiveness makes humans more romantically appealing. In a field study (n = 144 speed-dates), we coded nonverbal behaviors associated with liking, love, and dominance. Postural expansiveness-expanding the body in physical space-was most predictive of attraction, with each one-unit increase in coded behavior from the video recordings nearly doubling a person's odds of getting a "yes" response from one's speed-dating partner. In a subsequent field experiment (n = 3,000), we tested the causality of postural expansion (vs. contraction) on attraction using a popular Global Positioning Systembased online-dating application. Mate-seekers rapidly flipped through photographs of potential sexual/date partners, selecting those they desired to meet for a date. Mate-seekers were significantly more likely to select partners displaying an expansive (vs. contractive) nonverbal posture. Mediation analyses demonstrate one plausible mechanism through which expansiveness is appealing: Expansiveness makes the dating candidate appear more dominant. In a dating world in which success sometimes is determined by a split-second decision rendered after a brief interaction or exposure to a static photograph, single persons have very little time to make a good impression. Our research suggests that a nonverbal dominance display increases a person's chances of being selected as a potential mate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4009-4014
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 12 2016

Keywords

  • Attraction
  • Mate selection
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Postural expansiveness
  • Romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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