28 April 2006

Love special: Six ways to woo your lover

EDIT — Fuck it, I am posting the article in its entirety. I believe they have a tendency to bust links after it moves from their front pages and make them subscription-only.

Just read this short piece on New Scientist, entitled "Love special: Six ways to woo your lover"; with more tips via the link:
We all hunt for the perfect chat-up line, but in reality, our body gives away a great deal before we open our mouth. It is estimated that when you meet a stranger, their impression of you is based 55 per cent on your appearance and body language, 38 per cent on your style of speaking and a mere 7 per cent on what you actually say.

So what can we learn from the experts? There are a number of actions that signal "I like you" to another person. Adopting an open posture (no folded arms), and mirroring another's posture help create a feeling of affinity. Most people are not conscious of being mirrored, but evaluate those who do it more favourably. And it is worth adopting stances that enhance your masculinity or femininity, such as placing hands in pockets with elbows out to enlarge the chest.

You could also indulge in a "gestural dance", synchronising your gestures and body movements with those of the object of your desire, such as taking a sip of your drinks at the same time.

A dramatic setting can kick-start your love life. Meeting a stranger when physiologically aroused increases the chance of having romantic feelings towards them…

It's all because of a strong connection between anxiety, arousal and attraction. In the "shaky bridge study" carried out by psychologists Arthur Aron and Don Dutton in the 1970s, men who met a woman on a high, rickety bridge found the encounter sexier and more romantic than those who met her on a low, stable one. A visit to the funfair works wonders too. Photos of members of the opposite sex were more attractive to people who had just got off a roller coaster, compared with those who were waiting to get on. And couples were more loved-up after watching a suspense-filled thriller than a calmer film. Why? No one is sure, but the adrenaline rush from the danger might be misattributed to the thrill of attraction. But beware: while someone attractive becomes more so in a tense setting, the unattractive appear even less appealing.

An experience that makes you laugh creates feelings of closeness between strangers. A classic example comes from experiments carried out by US psychologists Arthur Aron and Barbara Fraley, in which strangers cooperated on playful activities such as learning dance steps, but with one partner wearing a blindfold and the other holding a drinking straw in their mouth to distort speech. Sounds stupid, but love and laughter really did go together. You can read about it in "The effect of a shared humorous experience on closeness in initial encounters" in the journal Personal Relationships (vol 11, p 61). We suggest that the blindfold/drinking straw approach is best confined to the laboratory.

Psychologists at North Adams State College in Massachusetts have proved what Shakespeare suggested - that music is the food of love. Well, rock music, at least. Women evaluating photos of men rated them more attractive while listening to soft-rock music, compared with avant-garde jazz or no music at all.

Can you short-cut all the hard work of relationship-building by artificial means? People have been trying to crack this one for thousands of years. A nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin can make people trust you - an important part of any relationship - though there's no evidence yet to suggest it can make someone fall in love. And while we wouldn't suggest you try this at home, studies on prairie voles show that injecting the hormone vasopressin into the brain makes males bond strongly to females. Illegal drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines can simulate the euphoria of falling in love by raising levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, but dopamine levels can also be increased legally by exercising. Another neurotransmitter, phenylethylamine (PEA), is tagged the "love molecule" because it induces feelings of excitement and apprehension. PEA is found in chocolate and it, too, is linked to the feel-good effects of exercise. Overall, a swift jog could be more conducive to love than anything you might find in a bottle.

Any flirt knows that making eye contact is an emotionally loaded act. Now psychologists have shown just how powerful it can be. When pairs of strangers were asked to gaze into each other's eyes, it was perhaps not surprising that their feelings of closeness and attraction rocketed compared with, say, gazing at each other's hands. More surprising was that a couple in one such experiment ended up getting married. Neuroscientists have shed some light on what's going on: meeting another person's gaze lights up brain regions associated with rewards. The bottom line is that eye contact can work wonders, but make sure you get your technique right: if your gaze isn't reciprocated, you risk coming across as a stalker.

From issue 2549 of New Scientist magazine, 27 April 2006, page 46

via New Scientist


Rev Max said...

NS is the awesome. Subscription is too expensive, but if you ever bite the bullet you can keep the new subscriber discount going by giving it to yourself as an annual gift instead of renewing as a regular subscriber. About the same cost as a month of cable TV and way more entertaining.

This universe was most likely spawned from a black hole! Study reveals bat testicle size evolved in inverse proportion to cranial volume! IT'S GREAT TOILET READING!

P.S. update yer blogroll, mang

Fell said...

Yeah, I love New Scientist. My goal right now is to get a subscription to the Harvard Business Review, so that is next on my list.

ps — Blogroll updated, yo!