There’s no shortage of advice on where to meet the right person, how to make people like you, and how to build a successful relationship.
Sometimes, though, people are attracted to each other for seemingly arbitrary reasons, such as what color you wear or whether you have a pet.
What might influence someone to fall for you? We pored through research on the psychology of attraction and found some fascinating reasons why people fall in love.
If you do something thrilling together.
In 1974, Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron wanted to test the connection between sexual attraction and anxiety. In their study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they placed men under two conditions. The first walked across a high, shaky bridge. The other was on a low, sturdy bridge. Afterward, they met a female experimenter who asked them a series of questions and gave the men her phone number “just in case.”
The men who met the woman after walking on the high bridge were more likely to call her than the men who met her on the low bridge. Psychologists call this phenomenon the “misattribution of arousal.” The high bridge created a sense of arousal from the anxiety, but men mistakenly thought it was from the attraction to the woman.
This is why many people like to do exciting things on first dates, such as visiting amusement parks, skydiving, or riding motorcycles.
If you prime them to feel more attracted to you.
Priming is an implicit memory effect, which means that the stimuli you are exposed to can influence your response to later stimuli. For example, if people take a multiple choice test with words that have to do with “oldness” like “Florida,” “gray,” and “weak,” they tend to walk slower afterward.
Yale psychologist John Bargh performed an experimentin which participants held warm or cold beverages and had to rate whether someone’s personality was warm or cold. Participants who held warm beverages judged the person to have a warm personality, because their minds were already primed to think that way.
If you take someone on a coffee date instead of an ice cream date, they may feel more warmly toward you.
If you live close to them.
It’s not only important to be close to someone emotionally — you should also strive to be close physically. According to an experiment at MIT, the proximity of students’ dorm rooms increased how close they felt to one another.
This is because they had more passive interactions, like brief meetings as they passed one another in the hallway, which made them feel more intimate.
It’s known as the mere exposure effect, which states that familiarity plays a huge role in attraction.