small team of researchers from Leiden University and one with the
University of Birmingham has found that when two people are attracted to
one another, their heart rates tend to synchronize and their palms
sweat together. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes experiments they conducted with volunteers in "dating cabins."
evidence and prior research have suggested that behavior reveals
whether two people are attracted to one another upon meeting for the
first time. Certain behaviors are believed to be sure signs. These
include smiling, mimicking behavior and laughing. Unfortunately, such
behaviors have not stood up well when tested in a scientific setting. In
this new effort, the researchers tried a new approach—measuring
physically uncontrollable bodily functions such as heart rate and palm sweat.
experiments consisted of setting up what the team describes as "dating
cabins"—little enclosed sheds with a table and two chairs inside. In the
middle of the table, the researchers put a separator to control when
volunteers could see one another. They also outfitted the cabins with
hardware for measuring eye movement, heart rate and palm sweating.
Finally, they set up the cabins at public events such as concerts and
invited young single people to participate in their study.
all, 142 volunteers participated in the study, each of whom were
invited individually to enter the cabin. Upon doing so, they were not
able to see who was on the other side of the table. The researchers then
removed the partition for three seconds, after which they were asked to
rate their attraction to the other person. Next, the partition was
removed again and the two people (of opposite genders) were invited to
speak with one another for two minutes. Then the barrier was closed
again and the volunteers were once again asked to rate their attraction
to the other. Then, once again, the barrier was removed and the two
people were asked to sit there looking at one another without speaking
for two minutes and then the partition was once again put in place and
the volunteers were once again asked to rate their attraction—this time,
they were also asked if they would be open to seeing the other person
researchers found that the scores of attractiveness the volunteers gave
each other after a first quick peek did not hold up. Nor did their
behavioral clues. What made a difference, they found, was the heart rate
of the volunteers. Those who were truly attracted to one another began
to experience synchronization, even as their heart rates rose and fell over the course of the experiment. They also found some degree of synchronization in the amount of palm sweating.
More information: E. Prochazkova et al, Physiological synchrony is associated with attraction in a blind date setting, Nature Human Behaviour (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-021-01197-3