Feeling the Vibe? Physiological Synchrony, and Not Overt Social Signals Predicts Attraction in a Blind Date Setting

Whether two people will feel attracted to each other can be predicted from the moment they meet.

In a recent study led by Dr Eliska Prochazkova, researchers from the University of Leven measured the physiology (heart rate and skin conductance response), and observed the body language (eye contact, gaze direction, smiles, mimicry, etc.) between volunteers participating in a blind date experiment.

The research team discovered that overt social signals, such as smiles, laughter, eye gaze or the mimicry of those signals, did not significantly correlate with mutual attraction. Instead, attraction was predicted by synchrony in heart rate and skin conductance (physiological signals, which are covert, unconscious and difficult to regulate) between partners.

It appears that the effortless, subconsious synchronisation of physiological phases of arousal and relaxation (as encoded through heart rate and skin conductance levels) between two individuals, forms the basis of romantic attraction.

In a separate study, the same team showed that the physiological synchronisation (skin conductance levels) can also predict cooperative success among individuals in real-life interactions.

Prochazkova, E., Sjak-Shie, E., Behrens, F. et al. Physiological synchrony is associated with attraction in a blind date setting. Nat Hum Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01197-3

Behrens F., Snijdewint J.A., Moulder R.G., Prochazkova E., Sjak-Shie E.E., Boker S.M. & Kret M.E. (2020), Physiological synchrony is associated with cooperative success in real-life interactions, Scientific Reports 10(1): 1-9.