The decision with whom to form a romantic bond is of great importance, yet the biological or behavioral mechanisms underlying this selective process in humans are largely unknown. Classic evolutionary theories of mate selection emphasize immediate and static features such as physical appearance and fertility. However, they do not explain how initial attraction temporally unfolds during an interaction, nor account for mutual physiological or behavioral adaptations that take place when two people become attracted. Instead, recent theories on social bonding emphasize the importance of co-regulation during social interactions (i.e., the social coordination of physiology and behavior between partners), and predict that co-regulation plays a role in bonding with others. In a speed-date experiment of forty-six heterosexual dates, we recorded the naturally occurring patterns of electrodermal activity and behavioral motion in men and women, and calculated their co-regulation during the date. We demonstrate that co-regulation of behavior and physiology is associated with the date outcome: when a man and a woman synchronize their electrodermal activity and dynamically tune their behavior to one another, they are more likely to be romantically and sexually attracted to one another. This study supports the hypothesis that co-regulation of sympathetic and behavioral rhythms between a man and a woman serves as a mechanism that promotes attraction.
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