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The Simple Thing Science Says You Can Do to Seem More Likable

A new study finds that this gesture makes you appear approachable.

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So much about successful entrepreneurship is about building rapport, whether it’s with investors or prospective employees. A new study from Hokkaido University and Yamagata University in Japan has found that something as simple as nodding can actually boost your likability in a significant way.

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The researchers showed 49 Japanese men and women a series of short video clips of computer-generated women nodding, shaking their heads or staying still. The study participants were then asked to rate the computer-generated figures on attractiveness, likeability and approachability from a scale of 0 to 100.

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They found that the act of nodding improved the study participants perception of a person’s subjective likability by 30 percent and a person’s approachability by 40 percent. The researchers noted that the head shaking motion did not affect their participants ratings for approachability and likability.

“Our study also demonstrated that nodding primarily increased likability attributable to personality traits, rather than to physical appearance,” Hokkaido University Associate Professor Jun-ichiro Kawahara said in a summary of the findings.

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However, he clarified that more research needed to be done in this area, since the computer-generated images were all of women. “Further study involving male figures, real faces and observers from different cultural backgrounds, is needed to apply these findings to real-world situations,” Kawahara explained.

What do you think of this study? Let us know in the comments.

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Nina Zipkin

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.