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  • 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

  • doesn't mean those warm, fuzzy feelings are all in your head.

  • In fact, all five of your senses play a role,

  • each able to vote for, or veto, a budding attraction.

  • The eyes are the first components in attraction.

  • Many visual beauty standards vary

  • between cultures and eras,

  • and signs of youth, fertility and good health,

  • such as long lustrous hair,

  • or smooth, scar-free skin,

  • are almost always in demand

  • because they're associated with reproductive fitness.

  • And when the eyes spot something they like,

  • our instinct is to move closer

  • so the other senses can investigate.

  • The nose's contribution to romance

  • is more than noticing perfume or cologne.

  • It's able to pick up on natural chemical signals

  • known as pheromones.

  • These not only convey important

  • physical or genetic information about their source

  • but are able to activate a physiological

  • or behavioral response in the recipient.

  • In one study, a group of women at different points in their ovulation cycles

  • wore the same t-shirts for three nights.

  • After male volunteers were randomly assigned

  • to smell either one of the worn shirts,

  • or a new unworn one,

  • saliva samples showed an increase in testosterone

  • in those who had smelled a shirt worn by an ovulating woman.

  • Such a testosterone boost

  • may give a man the nudge to persue a woman

  • he might not have otherwise noticed.

  • A woman's nose is particularly attuned

  • to MHC molecules,

  • which are used to fight disease.

  • In this case, opposites attract.

  • When a study asked women to smell t-shirts

  • that had been worn by different men,

  • they preferred the odors of those whose

  • MHC molecules differed from theirs.

  • This makes sense.

  • Genes that result in a greater variety of immunities

  • may give offspring a major survival advantage.

  • Our ears also determine attraction.

  • Men prefer females with high-pitched, breathy voices,

  • and wide formant spacing,

  • correlated with smaller body size.

  • While women prefer low-pitched voices

  • with a narrow formant spacing

  • that suggest a larger body size.

  • And not surprisingly,

  • touch turns out to be crucial for romance.

  • In this experiment,

  • not realizing the study had begun,

  • participants were asked to briefly hold the coffee,

  • either hot or iced.

  • Later, the participants read a story

  • about a hypothetical person,

  • and were asked to rate their personality.

  • Those who had held the hot cup of coffee

  • perceived the person in the story as happier,

  • more social, more generous and better-natured

  • than those who had held the cup of iced coffee,

  • who rated the person as cold, stoic, and unaffectionate.

  • If a potential mate has managed to pass

  • all these tests, there's still one more:

  • the infamous first kiss,

  • a rich and complex exchange

  • of tactile and chemical cues,

  • such as the smell of one's breath,

  • and the taste of their mouth.

  • This magical moment is so critical

  • that a majority of men and women

  • have reported losing their attraction to someone

  • after a bad first kiss.

  • Once attraction is confirmed,

  • your bloodstream is flooded

  • with norepinephrine,

  • activating your fight or flight system.

  • Your heart beats faster,

  • your pupils dilate,

  • and your body releases glucose for additional energy,

  • not because you're in danger

  • but because your body is telling you

  • that something important is happening.

  • To help you focus,

  • norepinephrine creates a sort of tunnel vision,

  • blocking out surrounding distractions,

  • possibly even warping your sense of time,

  • and enhancing your memory.

  • This might explain why people never forget their first kiss.

  • The idea of so much of our attraction

  • being influenced by chemicals and evolutionary biology

  • may seem cold and scientific rather than romantic,

  • but the next time you see someone you like,

  • try to appreciate how your entire body is playing matchmaker

  • to decide if that beautiful stranger is right for you.

We like to think of romantic feelings as spontaneous

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B1 TED-Ed attraction worn norepinephrine body size testosterone

【TED-Ed】The science of attraction - Dawn Maslar

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    Charlene Chia-Ling Chou posted on 2014/05/15
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