Graeme Newell

The Chameleon Effect

Brain science isn’t quite sure why, but our subconscious brain is continually trying to match the rhythm of those around us. Bottlenose dolphins arc through the water in unison. Fireflies synchronize flashes. Studies show that two people sitting in rocking chairs will usually match their rhythm. This powerful subconscious longing to synchronize is one of the reasons we’re transfixed by line dancing, military parades, cheerleaders, and TikTok.

And here’s the cool part: when others match our rhythm, we tend to LIKE THEM MORE. Researchers asked racially prejudice people to walk around a track with a person from a minority group they disliked. Pairs who matched strides reported liking each other more.

In another study, mothers were asked to stand near each other and bounce their infant babies. Some children were bounced in unison, others were not. Later, when the children played together, infants that had been bounced together were kinder to each other.

So if you want someone to like you, carefully watch their body movements and subtly match them. All of us get a powerful subconscious tingle when we step to the beat and sync up with others.