Science of attraction

Guest post courtesy of IU Newsroom multimedia intern Lena Morris:

Do you ever wonder what makes you attracted to someone? Is it their physical appearance, their personality, or could it even be an adaptive cognitive mechanism?

According to research conducted by Professor Peter Todd in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, the “love at first sight” could be a lot more physiological than you think.

“People say they want somebody who is like them on this variety of different traits but who they actually end up choosing is different,” Todd said.  “It’s actually people who have complementary traits to them.”

It turns out, your attraction to someone could be your innate cognitive development that seeks mates with ideal traits that could help you produce “better” offspring.

Furthermore, Todd’s lab has discovered a phenomenon called “mate-choice copying,” meaning the mate choices of others can influence who you find attractive. He said this is an adaptive cognitive ability that provides a shortcut to choosing your ideal mate.

In other words, you are more likely to be attracted to someone at the bar if you see someone else pursuing him or her.

These studies don’t necessarily create a formula for attraction, but it helps us analyze the natural biological process of mate choices – as if there wasn’t already enough to worry about on the first date!


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