Playfulness attractive to possible partners

People are attracted to playfulness when looking for a possible mate, new research has suggested. Published in the American Journal of Play, the study revealed such behaviour might signal positive qualities to individuals they wish to reproduce with.

Investigators from the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State explained messing around is just one way in which people attempt to exhibit their value as a mate, in much the same way as men try to woo women by showing off expensive belongings.

Garry Chick, Professor and Head of the Department, stated: "Playfulness in a male may signal to females that he is non-aggressive and less likely to harm them or their offspring."

Professor Chick explained a woman may act in this way to demonstrate her youth and fertility.

As part of the study, survey participants ranked being fun-loving and playful, as well as having a sense of humour, among the top characteristics they look for in a partner.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Abigael San comments:

"This is interesting research with many possible explanations. Playfulness often activates  a virtuous circle whereby a series of events is reinforced via a positive feedback loop.

For example, playfulness triggers pleasant emotions such as joy; and happiness can activate a comfortable physical state such as relaxation. An inner sense of calm allows us to focus our energies externally as we are less preoccupied with self-focussd worry. The outcome can be altruistic behaviours such as helping others - a highly desirable characteristic."