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Can You 'Trick' Yourself Into Falling in Love?

One study finds that faking romance can lead to the real deal.

By Kristin Wong Jul 6, 2012 1:31AM

Photo: Fotosearch/Getty ImagesAccording to the theory behind the facial feedback hypothesis, one can upgrade one's mood from sad to happy simply by forcing a smile. Similarly, a new study suggests people may be able to fall in love simply by faking it.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist and professor at the University of Hertfordshire, led a study that found behavior can influence emotions just as well as emotions can influence behavior. Wiseman held a speed-dating event for 100 volunteers, and some of the participants were asked to pretend like they were already in love. This included gazing into each other's eyes, holding hands, and whispering secrets.

At the end of the event, Wiseman asked the subjects how they felt about their dates. Under normal circumstances, only 20 percent of volunteers reported hitting it off with their match. However, that number shot to 45 percent for participants who faked feelings of romance.

"This is a remarkable finding," said Wiseman, according to the Telegraph. "Behaving like you are in love can lead to actually falling in love. People are always going [on] about positive thinking when this suggests positive action is just as valid."

The study could explain why celebrities often end up falling for each other after playing onscreen love interests. In Wiseman's experiment, the forced action was so powerful that at the end of the event, researchers actually had a hard time putting an end to all the lovey-dovey behavior.

"We had to go around pulling couples apart," he said.

While the idea of "forcing" love is a bit cringeworthy, Wiseman's theory of positive action could be a helpful starting point for couples dealing with relationship issues. He advises:

"Actions are the quickest, easiest and most powerful way to instantly change how you think and feel."

Photo: Fotosearch, Getty Images

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