1/26/11

Research You Need to Know

True fact: Psychologists have found that if you are deeply involved in a romantic relationship, you will be almost "REPELLED" by "highly-attractive romantic alternatives," namely, people you might have found really good looking if you weren't in love.

Here's how they did it. They had people try and keep track of flashing shapes on a screen. Occasionally, all these faces would pop up in the opposite corner. Single people would slow down when any face showed up. People in love would slow down if "average-looking" faces appeared, but if it was a "highly-attractive" face they did not slow down, so basically they wanted nothing to do with the highly-attractive face.
Front cover of True Life Romance #3Image via Wikipedia

The researchers concluded that, from an evolutionary standpoint, you are primed to find "romantic alternatives" less attractive when you are romantically involved with someone else.

But couldn't it just mean you are afraid of being tempted? Don't look. Don't look. Don't look.

Either way, it seems like this is research you can use. Thank you science.
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32 comments:

Little Messy Missy said...

Makes sense... very cool little bit of information. :0)

Daisy said...

And I'm sure it's _true_ Margaret!!
LOL :-D

Daisy's Barbara

Jean Spitzer said...

Did you make this up?

Margaret said...

I swear that I did not make this up. It's from a study called "Automatic Inattention to attractive alternatives: The Evolved Psychology of Relationship Maintenance." It's in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. I'm researching a new novel and this is one of the studie's I've run across.

Margaret said...

Also, the word "repelled" really was used.

Lori Webster said...

Wow...repelled? lol I guess that's why my roving eyes have been quiet ever since I met Scott.....

altadenahiker said...

Where does this put your Colin Firth?

Joanne said...

There are so many ways to interpret this. Did the research say why we are primed to do this? What's at the root of this behavior?

claire said...

Is there a link then to monogamy?
Ineresting stuff, Margaret. Good luck on your research!

TheChieftess said...

Hmmm...Perhaps those of us in relationships have learned there's much more to it than just a handsome face...

Katie said...

Interesting study. Did it say whose photos they used for the "highly-attractive" faces? Just wondering how diverse the selection was. Cool comic cover!

Alison said...

My question would be also: How did they define "highly attractive"? based on both my own preferences, and many of my circle of friends, there is quite a VAST variation in what is considered "highly attractive" - what I adore, several of my friends find almost repulsive, and their favorites are abhorrent/unattractive to me...

Desiree said...

My my. Reminds me of a time someone, terribly attractive, went skinny dipping. I casually read a book.

I've regretted it ever since.

Olga said...

"Automatic Inattention to attractive alternatives: The Evolved Psychology of Relationship Maintenance." Now there's some bedtime reading...ZZZzzz..
But I am certain YOU will put this information to good use somehow and make it quite a bit more entertaining than the journal did.

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Hmmmm...very interesting... I kind of feel like a bad wife because Robert Downey Jr. still turns my head every time. Shhh...don't tell Doug! :o)

Jean Spitzer said...

Okay, I believe that you didn't make it up, but it still seems likely to be flawed--based on personal experience, of course.

Kristen said...

Hey Margaret, found your blog via the Scripps website. Love it! Especially the goddesses! Don't know if you remember me but I lived in Dorsey, too (class of '89).
-Kristen Lohse

Margaret said...

Lori: You are living research!

AH:I think when you have been happily married as long as I have you can enjoy your secret boyfriend who you've never actually met and still be happily married. PS: Very excited about his Oscar nomination. I'm putting in a good word to the goddesses for him.

Joanne: A lot of research is trying to understand why lasting attraction and/or love became an evolutionary strategy of the species.

Claire: Yes, there is a link to monogamy and the thinking is that, especially among early humans, offspring demanded a lot of sustained work.

Katie and Alison: They did not define highly attractive, but I guess they followed widespread cultural cues.

Dez: You must have been in the throes of romantic love.

Olga: The name is a hoot, isn't it? And so it the writing. THese things are hard to get through, but if you can they are actually really interesting.

Deb: I hear you, sister, but for me it's Colin Firth and Ewan McGregor.

Jean: You're an artist. You can't help but feel compelled to observe beauty.

Kristen: Welcome! I'm glad you dropped by. I always love catching up with alums. Do you go to Camp Scripps?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I completely believe it; even regretted the truth of it when I turned down the affections of a perfectly good Irishman for a Sadistic German (that I projected all my desires on; total waste)

...and I'll add to this font of info. If you have sex with another man while in a relationship (and unprotected) you are more likely to conceive the interlopers DNA then your mates. Your body supposedly will introduce more acid with boring ho-hum then with "new guy in town"

TheChieftess said...

Well dayam, PA...had I known that, maybe I'd of had some extracurricular fun and had that kid I never had!!!
Sometimes it just doesn't seem to pay to be a "good girl"!!!

TheChieftess said...

FYI...that would've been extracurricular from my ex...the Hubman didn't come around until long after conception age!!! Just to be clear... :)

Petrea said...

Chieftess, I am laughing so hard. I'm really, really glad you clarified that.

And Margaret, speaking of clarification, now I know what those scientists wanted my picture for.

Okay, nevermind.

Margaret said...

PA:As for your extra info, I hadn't heard that but that explains a lot of jokes about milkmen.

Chieftess: The clarification is appreciated--I'm sure most of all by the chief!

Petrea: Of course, that's why they wanted your picture. I was going mention that I'd seen it in the research, but I thought maybe you were being humble on account of science.

Susan Campisi said...

Margaret, you and I fancy the same men. Last winter I went to a party and Ewan McGregor was there in the kitchen. I know! My girlfriend and I were like giddy teenagers. I was single (still am - just to clarify!) but I had to look away. I guess I knew I didn't have a chance in hell with him. Not only was he was surrounded by ten women, but he's married. I did sneak a few furtive glances his way.

I'm in love with Colin Firth too!

... daisy... said...

I will tell you when I'm romantically involved... at the moment I am not even "involved"... ;-)
Very interesting though! very!

Daisy said...

A man came into my office one day on business. He was "Gorgeous"! And being a professional, I sat there staring at him with my mouth hanging open! :-)

Daisy's Barbara

WritingNut said...

Hmm.. very innnteresting... but I do agree there may be many ways to interpret this :D

Cafe Observer said...

This is an fascinating new test you've found to determine whether people truly consider themselves to be married and/or in love.

Margaret said...

Susan: Must. Know. More. So did you meant Ewen McGregor?

Shanna said...

Ditto the first comment Chieftess posted.

This is all fascinating reading...!

Susan Campisi said...

Sadly I did not meet Ewan McGregor. I was too chicken to break through the posse of women surrounding him in the kitchen.

Margaret said...

Susan: Alas, I'm sure I wouldn't have talked to him either. But I might have tried to eavesdrop. Sometime you'll have to tell me why you get to go to the same parties as Ewan McGregor.