How can you tell if someone is attracted to you? Never mind advice columns in glossy magazines or picking off flower petals, just listen to the findings of this new psychological study on attraction and behavior.
The research, published this week in the journal Psychological Bulletin, has conducted the “most comprehensive analysis ever” on the subtle cues we give off when we're attracted to someone. The researchers looked at over 50 different empirical studies that focused on attraction and non-verbal behaviors, also taking into account variations between different cultures around the world.
They found that behaviors like eye contact, smiling, laughter, and initiating conversation were associated with attraction across most world cultures. In Western cultures, mimicking behaviors and head nodding were also noted as strong indicators of flirtation.
"There is a specific suite of behaviors associated with liking, and this same set of behaviors can be found in cultures from around the world," lead author R Matthew Montoya, from the University of Dayton in Ohio, said in a statement.
Telltale signs also included behaviors that suggest the development of trust and rapport, such as close physical proximity and an interest in talking.
"When we like someone, we act in ways to get them to trust us," Montoya explained. "From this perspective, we engage in these behaviors to increase the degree of overlap, interdependence, and commitment to an agreement."
The researchers also busted some common myths about certain behaviors sometimes associated with flirting. They found no evidence linking attraction to flicking hair, lifting eyebrows, using hand gestures, primping clothes, open body posture, or leaning in. Yep, no surprises, the famed female hair flip is total nonsense.
Understanding these behaviors won’t just help out on a date, the researchers believe the findings can also be applied to relationships outside of romantic liaisons, whether it’s simply making friends or maintaining positive relationships with your work colleagues.
"Whether we engage in these behaviors has little or nothing to do with romantic desires," Montoya said. "These behaviors apply when doctors interact with their patients, parents interact with their kids, or when salespeople talk to their customers."