The science of attraction - Dawn Maslar | Summary and Q&A

6.8M views
β€’
May 8, 2014
by
TED-Ed
YouTube video player
The science of attraction - Dawn Maslar

TL;DR

The brain runs a complex series of calculations to determine attraction, with all five senses playing a role in the process.

Install to Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Transcripts

Key Insights

  • 🧠 Attraction is not solely based on spontaneous feelings but rather on complex calculations in the brain.
  • πŸ’’ Visual beauty standards vary between cultures and eras, but qualities associated with reproductive fitness are universally attractive.
  • πŸ€½β€β™€οΈ Smell plays a significant role in attraction, with pheromones and MHC molecules influencing attraction for both men and women.
  • πŸ‘©β€πŸ­ Voice pitch and formant spacing are important factors in attraction, with men preferring high-pitched voices and women preferring low-pitched voices.
  • ❓ Touch is crucial for romance, as it can influence perception and attractiveness.
  • 😚 The first kiss is a critical moment in attraction, and a bad first kiss can lead to lost attraction.
  • πŸ₯° Physiological reactions, such as increased heart rate and dilation of pupils, occur when attraction is confirmed.

Transcript

We like to think of romantic feelings as spontaneous and indescribable things that come from the heart. But it's actually your brain running a complex series of calculations within a matter of seconds that's responsible for determining attraction. Doesn't sound quite as poetic, does it? But just because the calculations are happening in your brain ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What role do the eyes play in attraction?

The eyes are the first components in attraction, as they spot qualities associated with reproductive fitness, such as signs of youth and good health.

Q: How does the nose contribute to attraction?

The nose detects pheromones, which convey important genetic and physical information, and can activate physiological and behavioral responses in the recipient.

Q: What do studies show about women's preference for MHC molecules?

Studies have shown that women prefer the odor of men whose MHC molecules differ from theirs, as genes that result in more immunities provide a survival advantage for offspring.

Q: How do the ears determine attraction?

Men prefer females with high-pitched, breathy voices, while women prefer low-pitched voices with a narrow formant spacing, suggesting a larger body size.

Q: What role does touch play in attraction?

Touch is crucial for romance, as holding a hot cup of coffee can lead to more positive perception of others, while holding an iced coffee can result in colder perceptions.

Q: Why is the first kiss important in attraction?

The first kiss is a rich and complex exchange of tactile and chemical cues, and a bad first kiss can lead to a loss of attraction.

Q: What physiological reactions occur when attraction is confirmed?

When attraction is confirmed, the bloodstream is flooded with norepinephrine, which activates the fight or flight system, increases heart rate, dilates pupils, and releases glucose for additional energy.

Q: Why do people often remember their first kiss?

Norepinephrine, released during attraction, enhances memory and creates a sort of tunnel vision, possibly warping the sense of time, leading to a strong memory of the experience.

Summary

In this video, we learn that romantic feelings are not simply spontaneous or indescribable, but rather the result of a series of calculations that occur in the brain. These calculations consider input from all five senses to determine attraction. Visual beauty standards vary across cultures and eras, with signs of youth, fertility, and good health being universally desired. The nose detects chemical signals called pheromones, which can influence behavior and physiological responses. Men prefer high-pitched, breathy voices in women, while women prefer low-pitched voices that suggest a larger body size in men. Touch is crucial for romance, and even holding a hot or cold beverage can influence perceptions of another person's personality. The first kiss is a critical moment that can determine attraction, and when attraction is confirmed, the body releases norepinephrine, creating physical responses and enhancing memory. The idea of attraction being influenced by chemicals and evolutionary biology may seem less romantic, but it highlights the complexity of human attraction.

Questions & Answers

Q: How are attraction and romantic feelings determined?

Contrary to popular belief, attraction and romantic feelings are not purely spontaneous or indescribable. It is actually the brain that runs a complex series of calculations within a few seconds that determine attraction.

Q: Which senses play a role in attraction?

All five senses contribute to determining attraction. The eyes are the first to spot something attractive, followed by the nose detecting chemical signals known as pheromones. The ears also play a role, with men preferring high-pitched, breathy voices in females and women preferring low-pitched voices in males. Touch is crucial for romance as well.

Q: What visual beauty standards influence attraction?

Visual beauty standards vary across cultures and eras. However, some common traits associated with youth, fertility, and good health, such as long lustrous hair and scar-free skin, are universally sought after due to their association with reproductive fitness.

Q: How do pheromones affect attraction?

Pheromones are natural chemical signals that convey important physical or genetic information about their source and can activate a physiological or behavioral response in the recipient. For example, a study showed that smelling the shirt of an ovulating woman increased testosterone levels in male volunteers, potentially influencing attraction.

Q: What role does the sense of smell have in attraction?

The sense of smell, besides detecting perfumes or colognes, is able to pick up on natural chemical signals called pheromones. Different individuals may be attracted or repelled by certain pheromones, and different people may have different preferences based on factors such as MHC molecules, which are important for fighting diseases.

Q: How does touch influence attraction?

Touch is a crucial aspect of romance. Holding a hot or iced coffee cup can influence perceptions of a person's personality. In an experiment, participants who held a hot cup perceived a hypothetical person as happier, more social, generous, and better-natured, compared to those who held an iced coffee.

Q: How important is the first kiss in determining attraction?

The first kiss is a critical moment in determining attraction. Many individuals have reported losing attraction to someone after a bad first kiss. It serves as a rich and complex exchange of tactile and chemical cues, such as the smell of one's breath and the taste of their mouth.

Q: What physiological responses occur when attraction is confirmed?

When attraction is confirmed, the body releases norepinephrine, flooding the bloodstream. This activates the fight or flight system, leading to a faster heartbeat, dilated pupils, and the release of glucose for additional energy. These responses signal that something important is happening.

Q: How does norepinephrine affect focus and memory?

Norepinephrine helps to focus attention by creating a sort of tunnel vision, blocking out surrounding distractions. It can also warp the sense of time and enhance memory, which may explain why people often remember their first kiss vividly.

Q: Can attraction be influenced by chemicals and evolutionary biology?

Yes, attraction can be influenced by chemicals and evolutionary biology. While it may seem less romantic, it highlights the complexity of human attraction and the role that biology plays in determining compatibility and mate selection.

Takeaways

In conclusion, attraction and romantic feelings are not solely determined by spontaneous emotions but rather by a complex interplay of factors. The brain runs calculations based on input from all five senses to determine attraction. Visual beauty standards, pheromones, vocal pitch, touch, and even the first kiss all contribute to the process. When attraction is confirmed, the body releases norepinephrine, leading to physical responses and enhanced memory. Understanding the chemical and evolutionary influences on attraction can help us appreciate the intricate nature of human connections.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Attraction is determined by the brain running calculations within seconds, with all five senses contributing to the decision.

  • Visual beauty standards vary between cultures and eras, with signs of youth, fertility, and good health being universally attractive.

  • The nose detects pheromones that can activate physiological and behavioral responses, and women's noses are particularly attuned to MHC molecules.

  • The ears determine attraction through voice pitch and formant spacing, with men preferring high-pitched voices and women preferring low-pitched voices.

  • Touch plays a crucial role in attraction, with experiments showing that holding a hot cup of coffee can lead to more positive perception of others.

  • The first kiss is a critical moment in attraction, and a bad first kiss can lead to lost attraction.

Share This Summary πŸ“š

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on:

Explore More Summaries from TED-Ed πŸ“š

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on: