It may seem like there is no rhyme or reason as to why you are attracted to certain people and not others. Even when a person is conventionally good looking, many still claim that they are ‘not their type’. Here, the eye health brand PureOptical presents the science and biology of why we are attracted to certain people and why some fall target to love at first sight.
Why have you fallen for them and not me?
The reasons why you find someone attractive can be confusing to everyone involved. However, it doesn’t just happen by coincidence. According to Professor of Counselling Dr Kerulis, attraction often stems from, ‘our patterns of experiences in life, going back to early childhood’. We relate our childhood memories and the people within them to who we are meeting in the present. We attempt to emulate and recreate the people in our childhood and actively acknowledge the personality traits of the people in the present that are similar. For example, if your best friend was tall when you were young, this may explain why you are attracted to tall people in the present.
Here comes the science
According to Dr Helen Fisher at Rutgers, attraction is driven by the same pathways in the brain that control the feeling of ‘reward’. This explains why the initial stages of a relationship can feel so exhilarating.
Dopamine is produced by the hypothalamus (the brain’s reward pathway) which causes elation and a sense of euphoria when we are around the people that we love. Extreme levels of dopamine are related to the production of the hormone norepinephrine which can cause a loss in appetite and affect the quality of our sleep. Norepinephrine plays an instrumental role in the brains ‘fight or flight’ mode which kicks in when a person is particularly stressed or finds themselves in an extreme situation. Scans of the brain show that the primary centre of the brain sees a great spark when people are shown an image of someone that they are in love with as appose to just an acquaintance that they know.
Serotonin is released soon after meeting someone that we find attractive and in turn, has a huge impact on our feelings throughout the initial stages of a relationship. It is said that serotonin distracts the mind to such an extent that a person can hold thoughts of the person that they are attracted to for up to 65% of the day.
The combination of dopamine and serotonin are so influential throughout the preliminary stages of a relationship that people can attribute their effects to love. This breaths truth in the term ‘love at first sight’.
Some research has suggested that our hormone balance plays an instrumental role in determining who we find attractive. Men who hold high levels of testosterone may find that they are more attracted to women who consider themselves as particularly feminine, however, just because a man has a high level of testosterone it does not mean that they are any more attractive.
I can see it in your eyes
The University of Chicago conducted a study to determine if eye contact contributes to love at first sight. The study focused on eye movements and whether there was a difference between the movements of love and lust. The research involved showcasing images of romantic love as well as images that focused on lust. The study saw that people are more likely to focus on the faces of those they were in love and focus on the bodies in the other images supporting the notion of love at first sight.
Talk to me
Studies have found that on average, women find men with a low voice attractive, particularly when they are ovulating. It is said that this fact may stem from biology as deeper voices have been linked to producing healthy children.
John Wilson at Pure Optical says, ‘attraction can stem from childhood memories and association however, it can also grow as a result of consistent communication. Eye contact, for example, is a form of body language and indicates that you are holding full focus on the person that you are communicating with. This can strengthen relationships and serves as a means to distinguish yourself from others.