Women hoping to appeal to speed-dating partners should try subtly mimicking the words and body-language of their dates. That's according to Nicholas Gueguen whose new study shows that women who mimic are rated by men as more sexually attractive.
Gueguen recruited three female participants who were taking part in real-life, heterosexual speed-dating sessions and coached them to mimic some of their 66 male dates but not others. In the mimicking condition, the female assistants were instructed to mimic their partner's utterances approximately five times during a five-minute date and to mimic his body language five times. For example, if a date said "You really do this?", the woman would respond "Yes I really do this" in the mimicry condition, but say only "Yes" in the non-mimicry condition. Similarly, if a man scratched his face, a mimicking assistant was instructed to wait two to three seconds and then scratch her face.
The standard procedure at the end of these speed-dating sessions was for everyone to provide a list of those dates they would most like to give their contact details to. Guegen found that, on average, when a woman mimicked a dating partner, he was more likely, compared with non-mimicked dates, to want to give her his contact information, to say that the speed-date had gone well, and to rate her as more sexually attractive.
Further analysis showed that in the mimicry condition only, a woman's perceived sexual attractiveness was linked to how much a partner subsequently wanted to share his contact information with her, even after factoring out the general influence of how well the man felt the date had gone. In other words, mimicry seemed to increase the influence of a woman's sexual attractiveness.
"By using an experimental approach in a real context it was found that mimicry is associated with greater preference and liking for a female in a courtship situation," Gueguen said. "This aspect [of mimicry] has never been examined previously".
For extra appeal, the Digest blog archive suggests speed-daters could try combining mimicry with a light touch of their partner's arm. Guegen's previous research has shown that this can improve the success of romantic requests for a dance or phone number. Oh and for good measure, this earlier research suggests you should ask your opposite-sex friends to smile at you!
Gueguen, N. (2009). Mimicry and seduction: An evaluation in a courtship context. Social Influence, 4 (4), 249-255 DOI: 10.1080/15534510802628173
Link to related Digest item: mimicry the best form of flattery for computers too.
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.