In the world of online dating apps, people make split-second choices about whether someone’s hot… or not. Since pictures are often all they’ve got, non-verbal cues can play a big role in who a dater asks out. Of course, things like a genuine smile or leaning towards someone have always played a role in romance and attraction. But it’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to the online world.
A group of researchers from the US got to wondering whether people find certain non-verbal cues – things that can be glimpsed quickly in a profile pic – to be attractive in a potential partner. The researchers suspected that one thing in particular, which they call an ‘expansive body posture’, would be attractive in both men and women. A person with an expansive or open posture takes up space: they stand up straight and have their limbs stretched out in one way or another. The opposite is a contractive or closed posture, which is where someone takes up as little space as possible, and shrinks into him- or herself.
Bad posture? Swipe left!
To test out their theory, the researchers uploaded pics of six people into a dating app. But what they did was create two profiles for each person: in one, the guy or girl was standing up straight with an expansive posture, and in the other they were contracted and slouched down. Almost 3000 online daters perused the pics and said yea or nay to each. Would good posture boost a person’s attractiveness?
Standing up straight and taking up space does indeed make a person more attractive, the research showed. Though overall women were selected much more than men (gals got 790 yeas versus men, who only got 30), the pic with good posture got way more votes than the hunched over one for both sexes.
Easy way to stand out
Why does good posture make such a good impression on a potential partner? To answer this question, the researchers had approximately 850 participants look at a collage of the profile pictures of one of the six daters. In the collage, the dater was either standing up straight or slouched down. Then the researchers asked the participants if the guy or girl in the pics came across as dominant and open or welcoming. These were traits they figured might be responsible for the link between good posture and attractiveness.
Standing up straight sends a message of dominance and a sense of openness to a potential romantic partner, the researchers learned. What that means is good posture conveys that a person has resources and that they’re willing to share them with another.
Online daters see tons of profile pics in a short amount of time, and this study showed that standing up straight – something that’s easy to do – can really make your profile stand out from the rest.
Reference: Dominant, open nonverbal displays are attractive at zero-acquaintance. PNAS. (2016) 113(15):4009-14.
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