Mate-seekers were significantly more likely to select partners displaying an expansive (vs. Mediation analyses demonstrate one plausible mechanism through which expansiveness is appealing: Expansiveness makes the dating candidate appear more dominant.
Moreover, in laboratory experiments research subjects looking at static photographs on a computer screen report more romantic desire toward persons perceived to be dominant (26, 27); a similar effect is found in research examining live interactions between two people (28).
Data on nonhuman animals also suggest a consistent link between expansive nonverbal displays and attracting a mate.
In these brief observations of another person, one characteristic that seems to be expressed consistently through a small collection of nonverbal behaviors is hierarchical standing, e.g., one’s power, socioeconomic status, or sociometric status.
Perhaps because hierarchical standing appears to be expressed nonverbally, evidence suggests it is among the most rapid and automatic trait attributions humans make (13, 14).
These expansive, inviting (i.e., open) displays are a well-documented characteristic of many mating displays in which a rump or other genitalia are openly exposed (29–32).
Other examples include peacocks, which attract peahens by expansively fanning their tail feathers (33, 34), and male gorillas, which occupy more space to flaunt their physicality by kicking and running in a sideways manner (35).
Postural expansiveness—expanding the body in physical space—was most predictive of attraction, with each one-unit increase in coded behavior from the video recordings nearly doubling a person’s odds of getting a “yes” response from one’s speed-dating partner.
In a subsequent field experiment ( = 3,000), we tested the causality of postural expansion (vs.
contraction) on attraction using a popular Global Positioning System-based online-dating application.