We are often told to fake it until we make it, but does that apply to
matters of the heart? According to a new study, you can trick yourself
into finding someone attractive.
The study done by psychology professor Richard Wiseman intended to see if our behavior can help shape our emotions. To test this theory out, they had 100 volunteers in Edinburgh take part in a speed dating experiment. Some of them were told to interact using "normal speed dating behavior," while the other group was asked to engage in a series of psychological games designed to encourage them to act engage in "pretend intimacy" where they had to act as though they were attracted to each other and in love (look into each other's eyes, touch hands, share secrets, and even make small gifts for each other).
Once the test was done, the two groups were questioned about how many people they met that they felt close to and that they'd like to see again. Only 20% who'd done the "normal" speed dating thing said they'd be interested in seeing each other again, while 45% of the other group that pretended to already be in love said they wanted to see each other again. And when asked to rate how close they felt on a scale of one to ten, those who'd faked intimacy were an entire point higher on the scale than those who had not.
Based on these findings, Wiseman explains why these fake feelings may potentially transpire into the real deal:
People love this new form of speed-dating because it helps them interact in a more interesting way and, more importantly, encourages them to behave as if they find each other attractive. We actually had a problem stopping people. We had to go around pulling couples apart.
Just as people feel happier when they force their face into a smile, so pairs of people behaving as if they find one another attractive became emotionally close. The assumption was that the emotion leads to the action or behaviour but this shows it can happen the other way around, action can lead to emotions. Behaving like you are in love can lead to actually falling in love. People are always going about positive thinking when this suggest positive action is just as valid.
However, not everyone is convinced by the results since it was only a small sample of people, and there wasn't any explanation on whether the "fake love" couples actually stayed "in love" after the speed dating event was over.