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If you want to fall in love, just fake it?

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Fake it till you make it.

That pithy advice is often given to new graduates just starting their careers, but according to British researchers, it can apply to love as well.

Their study found that if you pretend to be in love with someone and mimic the behaviours associated with being in love, it can lead to the real thing.

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Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, set up a speed-dating night with 100 participants and asked some of them to act like they were already in love by gazing intensely into each other's eyes, touching hands and sharing secrets. What his team found was that those who faked it were more likely to show interest in seeing each other again compared with those who followed the standard speed-dating behaviours. The success rate – as measured by whether the volunteers wanted to see each other again – more than doubled from 20 per cent to 45 per cent.

"People love this new form of speed-dating because it helps them interact in a more interesting way and, more importantly, encourages them to behave as if they find each other attractive," Dr. Wiseman told The Telegraph. "We actually had a problem stopping people. We had to go around pulling couples apart."

The idea of faking something until it feels real is a technique we use in other areas of our lives, such as when we smile to make ourselves feel better. Or as Jean Hannah Edelstein, a columnist with the Guardian, pessimistically puts it, "going through the motions to trick ourselves into thinking that we are happy with our lot is something that we do to cope with many other crucial challenges in our lives."

The mentality that positive behaviour begets positive results was popularized when the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne was released in 2006. The bestselling new-age book argued that thinking positively can change your life dramatically, making you happier, healthier or richer. But, needless to say, not everyone who adhered to the tenets of The Secret found themselves any better off, and the book has been criticized for being delusional.

Do you think pretending to find someone attractive can lead to real love?

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