Body Language

15.08.2016 |

Episode #7 of the course Attraction science by Jake Teeny


Often times when we imagine attracting a potential interest, we fantasize of writing beautiful love poetry, or composing a moving song, or rose petals and compliments and fancy dinners and fireworks. But sometimes, subtle attempts are better.

That is, let’s talk about body language.

The way we sit and how we position ourselves communicate a lot to romantic interests; in fact, if verbal and nonverbal information contradict one another, people are five times more likely to believe the nonverbal information.

In general, leaning forward or angling your knees toward someone implies that you want to be there and are paying attention to them. However, leaning back or pointing your knees toward the door (or maybe even another potential interest) says otherwise.

But one pretty fail-safe body gesture to increase attraction is called “social mimicry.”

Social mimicry involves mirroring another person’s posture and pose, which results in increased liking for the copycat. For example, if the date across from you has both arms on the table, and subtly, you duplicate that position with your arms on the table, he or she will naturally come to have greater affection for you.

To document this phenomenon, researchers went to multiple bars where speed dating was being conducted. Prior to the event, they instructed half of the female participants to mimic the verbal and nonverbal behaviors of their male partners, while the other half did not get these directions.

Looking at the data, the researchers found that the women who had mimicked the men (vs. those who hadn’t) were rated to have better interactions, were more likely to be offered contact information, and were actually evaluated as more sexually attractive.

Researchers contend that mimicking the other person makes him or her feel more similar to you, by which, that person becomes more willing to trust, help, and like you. However, rather than jumping straight to mimicry (and thus subtly expressing your liking), another psychological phenomenon can be used to your advantage first.

According to the gain-loss effect, we respond more positively to increases in attraction rather than a constant expression of it. For example, if I smile right when I see you, naturally, you will feel good. However, if I don’t smile right when I see you, and instead, wait a few moments for you to say something before smiling, then you will feel even better.

This slight delay in expressing your affection makes the other person feel like they’ve “earned” it. In which case, they now evaluate that smile (and you) more positively than if you’d given it right off the bat.

Similarly, this effect can occur with head nodding as well. That is, rather than nodding at everything the other person says, wait to do so after more substantial remarks (especially ones that convey something meaningful) to increase your liking.

Just be careful not to restrict your smiling or nodding too much. No one likes to hang around a sourpuss for very long.

Love on the Brain? Not only can our words and body language be used to increase attraction, but under the right circumstances, simply sitting quietly can make others like us more, too.


Recommended book:

“What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People” by by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins


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