Fake it 'til you make it in love
"Fake it 'til you make it" is the catch phrase commonly used to combat everything from a lack of confidence to sadness. It is based on the 'as if' principle that our experience can determine our emotions.
For instance, the research of Clark University psychologist James Laird confirmed the theory that we can cheer ourselves up just by smiling "as if"' we were happy.
But, faking love?
Surely that is best left to wannabe Lotharios and not something most of us should, or would ever want to, fake.
Yet, acting "as if" we are attracted to others has surprising results and proves very revealing when it comes to our emotions.
A new study, published in the book, Rip It Up, has found that playing psychological games can encourage emotional closeness. For instance, acting 'as if' you find someone attractive increases the chances of them finding you attractive and of the two of you falling in love.
In the study, 100 volunteers, who were all looking for love, participated in a speed-dating session. A portion of the participants were instructed to pretend they were already intimately acquainted by holding hands, sharing secrets and looking into each other's eyes.
At the end of the session the two groups were asked how close they felt to the people they had met and how many they would like to see again.
Of those who partook in the conventional speed dating sessions only around 20 per cent said they would want to see one another again.
The psychological games group, however more than doubled the success rate to 45 per cent.
Study leader and author of Rip It Up, Professor Richard Wiseman, likened the session results to Laird's smile experiments: "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," he told The Telegraph.
"Behaving like you are in love can lead to actually falling in love. People are always going about positive thinking when this suggests positive action is just as valid."
In fact, he told The Daily Mail: "actions are the quickest, easiest and most powerful way to instantly change how you think and feel."
The 'as if' attraction principle can also bolster the bond in long-term relationships.
In 2009, Dr Robert Epstein found that purposefully performing specific emotional exercises can increase closeness with your partner.
Like Wiseman, Epstein's exercises included sharing secrets, personal space and gazing into each other's eyes.
More than 90 percent of the students who tried the recommended exercises reported improvement in their relationships.
While purposeful intimacy may be powerful for strangers and long-term lovers alike, there is an important caveat to note before you start staring down a prospective partner to win their affection.
"For many mammalian species, staring is both intended and received as a threat," Epstein says.
"In mutual gazing, however, people are giving each other permission to stare; that is, they are being vulnerable to each other, and that is the key element in emotional bonding."
- Sydney Morning Herald