Five Things Scientists Know About Romance

The bespectacled, lab-coat wearing geek isn’t most people’s idea of a hot date.  But, with nothing better to do on a Friday evening, and perhaps hoping to improve their chances, they’ve delved deep into the minds of more fortunate people to find out what causes them to fall in love.  They’ve found some surprising results with can help us all to find romantic success.

#1 Copy what your date is doing

We instinctively mimic other people all the time, picking up their turns of phrases, copying their posture and imitating their mannerisms.  But we rarely notice we’re doing it or that other people are doing it to us.  Mimicking is our brain’s way of having a sincere conversation with somebody else’s brain.  People who mimic more are better liked, and we even find we agree with their arguments more often.

Researchers in France (of course) have discovered that copying what a date is doing increases your chance of getting a second one.  They coached women taking part in a speed dating session to unobtrusively imitate their partner’s speech and body language.  So if the man they were talking to asked ‘You really do that?’ they replied ‘Yes, I really do that!’ instead of just ‘Yes’.  If he scratched his ear, they should scratch their own a few seconds later.  The training paid off: when the women mimicked they were rated as sexier by the men and received more offers of a follow up.


In defence of homeopathy

Homoeopathists have had a bad time of it recently.  Other bloggers have pointed out that there is nothing in the tablets that their clients buy other than sugar.  Protestors have been taking massive ‘overdoses’ in Boots stores.  A committee told the government to stop wasting NHS money on the quack technique.  But is it possible that homeopathy could actually be good for some people, even if it is just sugar?


Should politicians be splashing out on surgery?

In the protracted build up to a possible May poll, leaders of the main parties are fighting to set the agenda, attempting to focus the electorate’s thoughts on tax, education or the NHS.  In back offices, manifestoes are being written with promises on everything from the military to the environment. 

But a number of experiments suggest that the looks of the candidates are as important as what they say.  Would they be better off spending their time and donors’ money on visits to plastic surgeons?


Are liberals really wet?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the impact that politicians’ facial appearance has on voters’ choices.  Another big predictor of electoral success is the policies of the candidate’s party.  Is it possible to predict which policies will be attractive to voters?

Stereotypes suggest that different types of people are drawn to different ideologies.  The liberal is a beard-wearing, sandal-sporting, yoghurt-eating wimp.  The hawkish conservative is made of sterner stuff.  But do actual voters conform to the mould?