Coupled Sway, Coupled Hearts?

The role of body sway and groovy music in romantic attraction

Read on to learn more about this recently published study in the LIVELab

Andrew Chang, Haley E Kragness, Wei Tsou, Dan J Bosnyak, Anja Thiede, Laurel J Trainor, Body sway predicts romantic interest in speed dating, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 16, Issue 1-2, January-February 2021, Pages 185–192,

See below to access the full paper, read about the study, watch a video, listen to music played during the study, hear what participants had to say and view photos of the LIVELab setup!

Have you ever wondered how you can tell whether the person you’re dating is interested in you or not? Can body movement reveal romantic interest as early as a first date? Luckily, the perfect experiment already exists in the real world – speed dating!

To answer this question, we traded the LIVELab’s concert seats for café tables. Volunteers went on a series of short dates with other singles while we recorded their body sway with motion capture. After each date, each participant confidentially recorded their level of romantic interest in their partner. 

Body sway coupling, which reflects the dependence between each couple’s movements during the date, predicted dating partners’ long-term (but not short-term!) romantic interest. Moreover, the presence of groovy background music increased their interest in seeing their partner again! 

The results of this study build on LIVELab research investigating musician body sway during performances. Measuring interpersonal movement in real-world situations might reveal important aspects of human interaction in other settings, such as nonverbal infants or those with verbal communication disorders. It’s a great example of the type of research made possible by the LIVELab’s unique capabilities.

Interviews with the Researchers


Read about motion capture

Hear what participants had to say!

“I had a blast participating in the speed dating – in the name of science! No dates or relationship formed from my speed dates. This could be because I would consider myself more traditional, so I would prefer a man to reach out to me. I didn’t reach out to any of the men that I matched with. Overall, it was a fun night. Thank you for providing us with the results!”

“Thanks for sharing these results with me.  I enjoyed participating in the study, but I did not end up going on any dates with anyone I matched with.”