Research pinpoints indicators of attraction

May 9, 2018, University of Dayton
Research pinpoints indicators of attraction
Credit: University of Dayton

How can you tell if someone likes you? New research led by University of Dayton associate professor of psychology R. Matthew Montoya helps answer that question by identifying a list of nonverbal behaviors to watch for—identified by the most comprehensive analysis ever.

"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," Montoya said.

Making , smiling, initiating conversation, laughing and maintaining physical proximity were related to liking across cultures. Mimicking behaviors and head nodding were related in Western cultures.

Other behaviors showed no evidence of being related to liking, including when someone flips their hair, lifts their eyebrows, uses gestures, tilts their head, primps their clothes, maintains open body posture or leans in.

Montoya and his co-researchers developed the list—the most definitive ever produced—by analyzing 54 empirical papers that examined the relation between how much someone likes another person, and how he or she acted toward that person. They also reviewed descriptions of hundreds of cultures to determine which behaviors were mentioned as indicators of liking.

The results are published in Psychological Bulletin, a peer-reviewed journal from the American Psychological Association.

Montoya said the findings go beyond the world of dating.

"Whether we engage in these behaviors has little or nothing to do with romantic desires," he said. "These behaviors apply when doctors interact with their patients, parents interact with their kids, or when salespeople talk to their customers."

He explained that behaviors associated with attraction are those associated with developing trust and rapport between people.

"When we like someone, we act in ways to get them to trust us," he said. "From this perspective, we engage in these behaviors to increase the degree of overlap, interdependence, and commitment to an agreement."

Explore further: Study finds romance and affection top most popular sexual behaviors

More information: R. Matthew Montoya et al. A meta-analytic investigation of the relation between interpersonal attraction and enacted behavior., Psychological Bulletin (2018). DOI: 10.1037/bul0000148

Related Stories

Study finds romance and affection top most popular sexual behaviors

August 28, 2017
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Center for Sexual Health Promotion have published a new U.S. nationally representative study of sexual behavior, the first of its kind to capture ...

Factors ID'd for breastfeeding behavior in women with BMI >30

April 6, 2018
(HealthDay)—Five psychological factors are associated with breastfeeding behaviors among women with a body mass index ≥30 kg/m², according to a review published online March 24 in Obesity Reviews.

Can sexual risk and behaviors among women help explain HIV disparities by race/ethnicity?

July 13, 2017
Researchers examined the sexual behaviors of a nationally representative group of U.S. women that can prevent against or increase risk for HIV infection and reported the differences in behaviors such as condom use and concurrent ...

Prosocial youth less likely to associate with deviant peers, engage in problem behaviors

March 11, 2014
Prosocial behaviors, or actions intended to help others, remain an important area of focus for researchers interested in factors that reduce violence and other behavioral problems in youth. However, little is known regarding ...

Few engage in five behaviors for preventing chronic disease

June 6, 2016
(HealthDay)—Few U.S. adults engage in all five health-related behaviors recommended for chronic disease prevention, according to a study published online May 26 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing ...

Recommended for you

Early life trauma in men associated with reduced levels of sperm microRNAs

May 22, 2018
Exposure to early life trauma can lead to poor physical and mental health in some individuals, which can be passed on to their children. Studies in mice show that at least some of the effects of stress can be transmitted ...

Training compassion 'muscle' may boost brain's resilience to others' suffering

May 22, 2018
It can be distressing to witness the pain of family, friends or even strangers going through a hard time. But what if, just like strengthening a muscle or learning a new hobby, we could train ourselves to be more compassionate ...

Study finds popular 'growth mindset' educational interventions aren't very effective

May 22, 2018
A new study co-authored by researchers at Michigan State University and Case Western Reserve University found that "growth mindset interventions," or programs that teach students they can improve their intelligence with effort—and ...

Schizophrenics' blood has more genetic material from microbes

May 22, 2018
The blood of schizophrenia patients features genetic material from more types of microorganisms than that of people without the debilitating mental illness, research at Oregon State University has found.

Kids show adult-like intuition about ownership

May 22, 2018
Children as young as age three are able to make judgements about who owns an object based on its location, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Age-related racial disparity in suicide rates among US youth

May 21, 2018
New research suggests the suicide rate is roughly two times higher for black children ages 5-12 compared with white children of the same age group. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), appears ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.