How Brain Links Affective Understanding and Interpersonal Attraction?

Understanding and Interpersonal Attraction

A new study found that certain factors such as feelings of familiarity affect our attraction towards a certain someone. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and reveals a lot about our interpersonal interactions. Previous studies of interpersonal attraction tried to determine the brain activity of people who looked at the faces of those they found attractive. This study was different, as its aim was to determine if people felt attracted to those whose mental makeup was similar to their own. The study’s findings can be said to prove that, after all, brain is better than brawn in matters of attraction. Don’t rely on fitness exercising to find you a mate as your social behavior might actually play a bigger role in attraction a potential mate. Keep reading to learn more about the study.

The Theory

The study mentions theories from social psychology on the role of reward in attraction. Several previous studies have found that the reward system in the brain was highly active when people felt attracted to another person. This study claimed that people felt attracted to others whose emotions and behavior they could understand and relate to. How well we interpret others’ emotional state depends on how similar it is to our own. Meaning, we use our own emotions and cognitions as a reference point when evaluating others. This feeling of familiarity then results in a feeling of attractiveness. Other earlier findings confirmed that attraction activated our brain’s reward system. The study conducted experiments to see if a person’s feeling of familiarity and brain activity might give more insight into the laws of attraction.

The Experiments

Female and Male Brain Attraction

The study included two experiments. In the first experiment, male and female volunteers watched videos of six women who showed feelings of fear and sadness. The volunteers had to guess which emotions the women exhibited and how confident they were in their guess. To determine how attracted the volunteers were towards the women, they had to adjust the size of a photo of each woman so that it corresponds to a pleasant distance for conversation. This was done both before and after seeing the videos. Furthermore, the researchers asked the volunteers questions about how they felt towards the women and if they would like to meet them. The second experiment included a different set of volunteers but they too watched videos of the six women, only this time, the volunteers underwent fMRI imaging. The first experiment was meant to find a link between affective understanding and interpersonal attraction of another person’s emotions and the second one tried to find the underlying neural mechanisms in attraction.

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At the end of the study, researchers concluded that both experiments confirm that a feeling of similarity with the person they are watching resulted in a feeling of attractiveness. The more the volunteers felt familiar with the subject of the videos, and the more confident they were in their interpretation, the more they felt attracted to them. The fMRI imaging confirmed this theory through recording neural activity in the reward regions of the brain when volunteers felt attracted to the women. Previous research claimed that interpersonal attraction relied mostly on other’s genetic fitness. But since humans are complex social animals, we like to look for more in our partners than good genes. We need good and efficient communication with our partners. And good communication and interaction happen when we are able to read verbal and non-verbal cues of those we interact with. According to this study, this will depend on our psychology and neuron connections.

What This Means?

Human Intract Study

These findings might broaden our understanding of how humans interact and cooperate. This study gives a whole new meaning to the concept of mutual understanding – something which is essential in most successful relationships and cooperation. The study aims to broaden our understanding of the biology underlying our social interaction. As it turns out, how attracted we will be to someone depends on our ability to “decode“their behavior. How well we will decode them depends on our own psychological makeup. Put differently: our own psychology is projected on the other in most social interactions.

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These types of studies give more meaning to the brain over brawn saying. While most people are attracted to someone’s genes or physical fitness, most humans need to feel emotionally secure in order to have successful relationships and this can only happen when we develop mutual understanding. But this understanding can happen only when we are able to read another person well. Fitness exercising might increase* your likelihood of finding a date, but how long your mate will stick with you depends on how well your brains match. If you are able to read each other’s mind without saying a word, then this might mean your psychological makeup matches well.

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Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.

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