Let’s say you are in some sort of public setting. You are looking around when a certain person catches your attention. You cannot exactly put your finger on it but there is something about him/her that makes you want to get to know them better. So, after you introduce yourself and carry out some small talk, you realize you are quite attracted to this person! But why are you? According to Dawn Maslar, a lot more goes into attraction before you experience those happy, head-over-heels feelings.
In order for you to feel attracted to someone, your brain goes through a series of checks that end up determining the attraction that you feel. Your brain uses information from all five of your senses and uses all of that information to determine if you are attracted to the person. Each sense will give its input as to whether or not you should be attracted to the person. And what is even more impressive is that your brain makes this determination within seconds of seeing the person!
Sight: As you might suspect, your eyes play the first role in attraction. While many visuals attributes of attractiveness vary from culture to culture, signs of fertility, good health, and youth are always sought after. This could be related to the evolutionary psychology perspective on attraction. Evolutionary psychology states that we are attracted to those who look the most physically healthy and have the most appealing features, such as the ones mentioned before. So it would make sense that we are attracted to those who are the most visually appealing because those individuals would more than likely make better mates and increase your chances of having healthier offspring. Once your sense of sight determines that it likes what it sees, you will more than likely give the other senses a chance to investigate.
Smell: Now, it is helpful to have nice smelling perfume or cologne on, but your sense of smell goes beyond them. Your nose is able to pick up natural chemical signals that are released by humans (and many other animals) called pheromones. Senses these chemicals can trigger both a physiological and behavioral response in those who pick up their signal. This might sound bizarre, but there was a study conducted that found this to be true. A group of women each wore the same t-shirt for three nights during different periods of their ovulation cycles. After the shirts were worn, a group of men were randomly assigned to smell a new shirt and the shirt that was worn by one of the women. After each time the smelled a shirt, a saliva sample was taken to measure the level of testosterone in their bodies. The saliva samples found an increase in testosterone levels in men who had just smelled the shirt of an ovulating woman. It is thought that a boost in testosterone might give a man that little extra “nudge” to go talk to a women he might not have before. Another similar study was conducted wear women smelled shirts worn by men. However, rather than women liking the shirt that was worn, they preferred shirts worn by specific men.
Hearing: Believe it or not, our ears also play a role in our attraction to someone. It has been found that men prefer women with higher pitched, breathy voices, and “wide formant spacing” which is often associated with a woman that has a smaller body size. Women usually prefer low-pitched voices with a “narrow formant spacing” which is often associated with a larger body size.
Touch: This one probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, however, the studies that were done and what they found are pretty interesting. In a study, participants were asked to hold a cup of coffee that was either hot or iced. Later on, they were asked to read a story about a made up person and then rate their personality. Those who held the cup of hot coffee described the person as being warmer, happier, nicer, and more positive than those who were holding the ice coffee. Those holding the ice coffee interpreted the character in the story as unaffectionate and cold. So what does this mean? Whether you are holding a hot or cold beverage (or food) could influence how you see the person of interest and determine whether or not you are attracted to them.
Taste: This comes last and is brought on by the first kiss you have with your person of interest. The taste of their mouth and the smell of their breath obviously play a role in your attraction to them. It has been found that the first kiss is so important that many men and women have reported losing their attraction to someone after having a bad first kiss.
Your heart plus a chemical called norepinephrine is released into your bloodstream, which then activates your body’s fight or flight mechanism. This fight or flight response causes your heart to beat faster, your pupils to become more dilated, and your body even releases glucose to give you an extra boost in energy. This all happens because your body has determined that something important is about to happen! Your body’s fight or flight response also gives you a type of tunnel visions, which enables you to better focus and even blocks out surrounding distractions.
Adam is a UIF intern writer at Seton Hill University (SHU) in Greensburg, PA. He plays offensive line for his university’s Division II football team. Adam is a firm believer in having a positive mentality and outlook on life, and doing so can have an impact on every aspect of your life.