The Science Of Attraction (VIDEO)

May 12, 2014 by Justin Lehmiller

There are numerous factors that help determine why we develop attraction to some people and not others. However, what we’re going to focus on here is the role that the five senses play in attraction. As it turns out, the way our brain combines and interprets sensory input from all of these sources at any given moment can have a big effect on who we become attracted to. Attraction depends not just on the way another person looks, but also how that person smells, how their mouth tastes, the pitch of their voice, and so forth. The video below will walk you through the role that each of the senses play in attraction and describe some particularly fascinating supporting studies along the way.

One word of warning: the video is fairly heteronormative, focusing primarily on how attractions develop between men and women. However, this should not be interpreted to mean that sensory perception plays no role in the development of attraction between gay men and lesbians. In fact, I have seen some evidence to suggest that these processes operate in similar ways across persons of different sexual orientations (e.g., see here for an article that discusses research suggesting that gay men’s brains respond to male pheromones in the same way that heterosexual women’s brains do). In short, it may very well be that the sensory effects described in this video actually apply more broadly.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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