Attraction & Intimacy: A Cross-Cultural Review
Nov. 27 , 2012
FINAL EXAM: December 4 , 2012. 7-9PM. ROZ 104. 120 questions; 60 questions from textbook: 5, 10 (pp. 332-
352), 11, 12, 13, 14. 10 questions from each chapter. 60 questions from lectures: intergroup conflict, violence across
culture, stereotypes and attraction. 7 questions from those. 8 questions from these: altruism, aggression, prejudice,
intimacy across culture.
Chemistry of Love
- What are the characteristics of someone in love? People who are in love are addicted to their beloved. You
crave their presence and can’t shut down thinking about them – dependency. You feel you can’t be without
them (separation anxiety). Feeling of elation. Cannot sleep. Loss of appetite. Cannot stop talking about the
beloved. Wanting the person exclusively to yourself, you want their full attention. We focus so much on the
positive qualities of our beloved that we forget their negative attributes. You remember tiny details.
- Romantic love is associated with specific chemicals and networks in the brain (Fisher, 2004):
Associated with excessive energy, focused attention, goal-oriented behaviours,
dependency, and sexual desire
People who are in love have higher levels of dopamine. Remember the smallest details of
the interaction with the beloved. Lovers want to attain their goals and their goal is the
beloved (to stay with them as long as possible). High level of dopamine is associated with
dependency and sexual desire.
Associated with excessive energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, increased memory for
People who are in love have higher levels of norepinephrine. People who have been
passionately in love vs. people who are suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder,
they have higher levels of norepinephrine in their body. They found that both people fall
in love and both people have significantly higher levels of norepinephrine in their body.
We are physiologically suffering from the consequences.
Associated with obsession
People who are passionately in love have lower levels of serotonin.
Experiment: Scanning the Brain in Love
- “Have you just fallen madly in love?” – put up an ad saying this. Gathered participants who were currently
in love. Interviewed these people. She asked them, what %-age of the day do you think about the beloved?
Selected the people that said “always”.
- The brain activity of 20 participants who were “madly and happily in love” were scanned using functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) (Fisher, 2004). Excluded left-handed individuals because they could
have different brain activity and people who had piercings. Asked them to bring two photos to the session;
one of the beloved and one of an acquaintance (something that doesn’t lead to any positive or negative
emotion). The pictures were presented and took pictures of the brain while the participant looks at the
picture. Asks participants to count back from a large number (4 digit number) by 7 numbers. Wanting them
to stop thinking of the beloved and start thinking of another task. Then they showed the picture of the acquaintance, and then asked the participant to count back from a number again. Wanted to find what part
of the brain is active when thinking of the beloved. The part of the brain that becomes active lights up –
more blood flows in this area. The part of the brain that became active was extremely active.
The Brain in Love
o High activity in the Caudate Nucleus
Associated with the reward system. Associated with pleasure.
o High activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) was found.
This region produces dopamine-making cells and distributes dopamine to many brain
There are brain differences between people who are in love and people who aren’t in
Rejection in Love
- Study by Fisher, Brown, Aron, Strong, & Mashek (2010)
o 40 volunteers who were recently rejected by their partners
o Using fMRI, the researchers found that when participants looked at pictures of their exes, their
brains engaged the same pain circuits that lit up that is associated with physical pain.
- Love hurts and the hurt isn’t entirely in your head. The same way that the pleasure you experience from
love isn’t imaged, your body is going through that pleasure.
Who Do We Choose?
- Why does one person ignite these primitive brain circuits while another perfectly lovely human being
leaves us totally unmoved? Why him? Why her?
o We have to be ready and right to fall in love. A perfectly lovely partner could be next to you, but
you won’t notice them if you’re in a relationship, if you’re anxious, if you don’t have enough
money to take them out, etc. The situation must be right.
People who are emotionally aroused have agitated mental states and have elevated levels
of stress hormones. Both systems increase dopamine.
Your mental state should be ready in order to fall in love.
Three Facts of Attraction
o The theory does not offer a biolo