We’re often told that copying body language and mannerisms on a first date are surefire signs that your date is interested in you.  

Researchers in the Netherlands found that in-sync heart rate and sweating are better indicators of romantic attraction.

Experts fitted male & female participants with eye-tracking devices and other devices in a blind date setting to measure their physiological and behavioral signals.

They found no significant link between physical attraction and copying body language — either smiling, laughing, direct eye contact, head nods or hand gestures. 

The strongest indicator of attraction was “physiological synchrony’ — in-sync sweating and heart rates — which they say is ‘a precursor of deeper emotional understanding’. 

Researchers believe these biological signals, which can be hidden, unconscious, and difficult to control, could help people “align emotionally” when they first meet.  

In-sync sweating and heart rates are much better indicators of attraction than copying body language and mannerisms on a blind date, say experts at Leiden University, the Netherlands (stock image)

Experts at Leiden University in the Netherlands say that heart rate and sync sweating are better indicators of attraction than copying body language or mannerisms on a blind date. (stock image).

The study was led by Eliska Prochazkova, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and published in Nature Human Behaviour. 

Prochazkova and her colleagues write in the paper that “Humans are social animals” and that their well-being is affected by their ability to attract and connect with others.  

“Here we measure the physiological dynamics of pairs of participants in real-life dating interactions.  

“We found that overt signals like smiles, laughter or eye gaze were not significantly associated to attraction.

“Instead, attraction was predicted through synchrony between heart rate and skin conductance, which are covert and unconscious and difficult to control.  

Graphic from the paper shows the experimental set-up. Inside the cabin, there was a table with two chairs on opposite sides. A barrier was placed in the middle of the table, preventing a couple from seeing each other. Participants were instructed to remain silent until they heard pre-recorded instructions via a speaker

The paper’s graphic shows the experimental setup. There was a table inside the cabin with two chairs on each side. A barrier was placed at the center of the table to prevent couples from seeing each other. Participants were told to remain silent until they heard the instructions via a speaker.


A 2021 study suggests that if you have trouble finding love on dating apps, you might try dating one of your friends.  

Based in Canada, the study authors looked at data from just over 2,000 couples representing different demographics. 

They found two thirds started out as just friends, suggesting that establishing a platonic connection with someone first is conducive to a solid romantic relationship later.

The study suggests the cliché of falling in love at first site – frequent in Hollywood movies of the silver screen – may be outdated in the 21st century. 

Read more: Two-thirds of romantic couples start as friends, study finds

“Our findings suggest that interdependent partners’ attraction increases/decreases as their subconscious arousal level rises/falls in synchrony.”

The researchers assert that in a world of online dating, it is now more relevant to ask what defines attraction.

What people really want in a partner is a gut feeling of connection’. This sensation is more likely to happen during face-toface interactions.

Researchers created a pop-up blind dating lab to determine what triggers feelings of attraction at various social events in the Netherlands. 

Blind dates can be stressful and likely to cause strong physiological reactions. This is desirable for physiological synchrony. 

140 single males (all between the ages 18 and 37) entered their specially-designed ‘dating room’. They sat at a large visual barrier, and 140 females (all single) entered.   

Initially, the visual barrier was obstructive and blocked their view. However, it gradually opened for three second, allowing them to form an impression of each other. 

The barrier was closed and participants rated their partner for attraction on a 0-9 point scale. 

This was followed by one verbal interaction and one non-verbal interaction — where they were banned from talking — each lasting two minutes.

After each interaction, participants closed the barrier and rated their partners on the same scales.

Tobii eye tracking glasses monitored participants’ gaze fixations and expressions throughout the experiment. 

Meanwhile, participants’ heart rate and electrodermal activity — changes in the resistance of the skin to a small electrical current based on sweat gland activity — was recorded with two BIOPACs. 

Throughout the experiment, Tobii eye-tracking glasses (pictured) measured participants' gaze fixations and expressions. This was compared with heart rate and electrodermal activity — changes in the resistance of the skin to a small electrical current based on sweat gland activity

Tobii eye-tracking sunglasses (pictured) were used to measure participants’ gaze fixations as well as expressions throughout the experiment. This was compared with heart rate and electrodermal activity — changes in the resistance of the skin to a small electrical current based on sweat gland activity

Participants could decide whether or not they wanted to go on another date after the experiment was over. 

They discovered that attraction was tied to physiological synchrony between partners, regardless of whether they were allowed to speak or not.

Researchers stress that they are not suggesting in-sync smiling, laughing or face-to-face gazing does not play a role in attraction — just that physiological synchrony is more strongly linked.  

These findings give a glimpse at the deep-seated biological responses that may occur during a face–to-face encounter.  

Previous research has shown that visual or written stimuli (such personal ads or photos on an app) do not predict attraction. 

The researchers conclude that the current findings are especially relevant in light of modern romantic landscapes where affective exchange is reduced between strangers.   


Recent research from Israel suggests that if you are stuck in a unhappy marriage, you should seek out marriage therapy. Otherwise, you could risk getting thrown into the early grave.

A team from Tel Aviv University analyzed extensive health data dating back over 30 years to find the causes and deaths of more than 10,000 Israeli men. 

Unhappy with your marriage or perceiving your marriage to be bad made men more likely to die from cerebrovascular conditions (CVA), such as stroke or blocked arteries. This is the same as smoking and not being active enough. 

Authors found that men who feel unhappy in their marriage are 69% more likely to suffer strokes than those who are happy in their marriage.

If you take into account all cases of premature death in men, you will see that the death rate was 19% higher for men who say their marriage was unhappy. 

The study authors suggested that health authorities should encourage the practice of marriage therapy to improve men’s health, and make them live longer.  

Dr Shahar Lev Ari, study author, said that ‘our study shows that the quality and quantity of marriage and family life have health implications for life expectancy. 

“Men who viewed their marriages negatively were more likely to die than those who viewed their marriages positively.”  

As part of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine,  the researchers conducted statistical analyses of a database that started gathering data in the 1960s.

They followed the health and behaviour for 32 years of 10,000 Israeli state employees. They paid particular attention to stroke deaths. 

The majority of the participants were in their 40s when the study began. It ended in the 1960s with a total of 64% deaths from a variety of illnesses. 

Dr Shahar LEV-Ari, study author, said that they wanted to analyse longitudinal data to identify risk factors for behavioural and psychosocial death that could predict death from CVAs and premature deaths for any reason.

Participants were asked to rank their marital satisfaction from a scale of 1 (very successful) to 4 (failed). 

5,736 people died during the 32-year follow-up. 595 died of stroke. 

The authors found that stroke mortality rates rose by 69% from 24.0 in the most satisfied to 40.6 in those in the least satisfied. 

Rates of all-cause death rose 19% from 248.5 for the most satisfied to 295.3 for the least satisfied.   

A sensitivity analysis revealed that the rate for mortality among younger volunteers (those under 50 years old) in the least satisfied group at recruitment was 39% higher than the most satisfied. 

Older study participants saw a less dramatic increase of 6.5%.

‘At a higher age, the gap is smaller, perhaps due to processes of adjustment that life partners go through over time,’ according to Lev-Ari.

The researchers also performed a statistical analysis on all known risk factors for death from cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and excessive BMI.  

The relative risk of death from any cause among happy married couples was 1.21 higher than that of those who were unhappy with their marriages. 

The team explained that these rates are similar to data from the literature on smokers and those who live sedentary lives. 

‘These findings were consistent with other studies that have shown the effectiveness of educational programs fostering good life partnerships as part of a national strategy to promote health and wellness for the public at large,’ said Lev-Ari.