Looking for love? Manspreading could be the key to success, study suggests

man sitting

Using videos and a Tinder-style app, researchers have determined that people who stretched themselves out were rated more attractive by potential partners

Never mind sparkling conversation, smelling clean and remembering the person’s name. In the world of modern dating, the secret to success is to take up space.

The unusual tip for finding love, or at least a lover, comes from US researchers who used speed dating videos and a Tinder-style app to show that people were rated as more attractive when they stretched themselves out.

People who extended their torsos, pushed out their legs and spread their arms wide were rewarded with more romantic interest than others, probably because the postures implied openness and dominance, the researchers claim.

In contrast, those who hunched themselves up, and crossed their arms and legs, fared poorly in their bids to win over potential partners.

The findings could help scores of singletons who, in the time of Tinder and online dating sites, have only a handful of photos and a few seconds to convey the immense reward that a relationship with them would doubtless represent.

In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk at the University of California, Berkeley, describes how her team used video footage from a speed dating event to show how both men and women who adopted more “expansive” postures had more partners request a follow-up date.

She followed up with experiments on a Tinder-style app. Three men and three women agreed to have two different profiles created for them. One showed them in open poses, such as leaning back with legs outstretched, or standing up with their arms out wide. In the other profile, they adopted “contractive” poses, for example, by hunching up, or folding their arms and crossing their legs.

Vacharkulksemsuk uploaded the profiles over two weekends and recorded which drew the most romantic interest. As predicted, the more open postures fared best in terms of requests to meet up. Again, both men and women benefited, although the effect was larger for men.

Writing in the journal, the researchers call the splaying of arms and legs in online dating photos “dominant, open non-verbal displays at zero acquaintance.”

“Based on our results garnered from thousands of single persons at an actual speed dating event, and using a dating application, it is evident that postural expansion can dramatically increase a person’s chances of making a successful initial romantic connection,” they add.

Vacharkulksemsuk suspects that dominance and openness make people more attractive because dominant people tend to do better in the workplace and open people are more willing to share what they have in life.

Studies in other animals suggest humans may not be so different. Vacharkulksemsuk mentions displays in which animals bare their behinds and genitals. Male gorillas flaunt their physicality by kicking and running sideways, while peacocks attract peahens by displaying their tail feathers.

Meeting a person through some form of online dating has become the second most common way of finding a partner, after meeting through friends. Nearly 91m people use smartphones to find partners, about 70% of whom are aged 16 to 34, the authors write.

“On such platforms, where getting a date with another person commonly begins with a photograph or brief interaction, it is advantageous to know how to maximise one’s chances within such a minimised time frame,” they add.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ian Sample Science editor, for The Guardian on Monday 28th March 2016 20.00 Europe/London

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