Entries in arousal (11)


A Kiss is More than Just a Kiss

Whereas kissing is commonly perceived as a display of affection in romantic relationships, research highlights a far more nuanced explanation regarding the “function” of kissing within relationships.1 Some research suggests that kissing enables individuals to assess the quality of potential partners by putting individuals in close proximity, making it easier to examine features that are associated with mate value, such as breath and skin texture.2 Other research suggests that kissing elevates levels of arousal, which may lead to sexual intercourse.3 A third body of research suggests that kissing can influence feelings of attachment, alleviate stress, and increase relationship satisfaction.4 Given these varied explanations, the question remains: is there a single purpose for kissing or do all these explanations hold truth?

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Misattribution in Paradise: Would the Bachelor Contestants Have Connected without all of the Arousal Inducing Dates?

Somehow, even with my reality TV addiction, I was able to evade the Bachelor for the past 19 seasons, Bachelor Pad, and one season of Bachelor in Paradise. However, this summer, at the request of a friend, I sat down to watch the second season of Bachelor in Paradise. I was immediately sucked in. A revolving door of men and women moved into a villa in Vallarta-Nayarit, Mexico, all with the hopes of finding love. Each week a few cast members would be given date cards by the host of the show, instructing them to pick partners to accompany them on various excursions. While some of the date cards cast members were given led to private dinners and fantasy suites (think rose petals, champagne, and private hotel rooms), a large number of the dates involved more active plans, such as wrestling matches, bungee jumping, dancing at a club, and jet skiing. People seemed to be really into each other on the dates, but would often question their feelings shortly after when back on the serene beach. Was the post-date letdown because there were so many good looking unattached people around to pull their attention away from the partner they just went on a date with? Or was it something more -- perhaps something physiological?

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An Amazing Race…Down the Aisle?

The producers of the Amazing Race have decided to shake things up: For the upcoming season, six of the teams racing around the world are existing romantic couples, and the other five teams are unacquainted dating hopefuls whom producers matched up for the “most extreme blind date ever.”

Given the poor track record of reality shows designed to help contestants find love (the last Bachelorette contestant Andi Dorfman recently split from her fiancé Josh Murray, and in 28 seasons, the Bachelor & Bachelorette have produced only five intact couples), one can’t help but wonder...are these matched couples on the Amazing Race doomed to a similar fate?

But before we write these “blind date” couples off, let’s take a moment to consider the research evidence suggesting that these couples may be the exception – they may be some of the few couples who actually find lasting love on reality TV. Further, the existing romantic couples may experience relational benefits from competing on the show.

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Love in “The Hunger Games”: Why Katniss Falls for Peeta

I’m completely obsessed with The Hunger Games. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I have visited North Korea, a real country where millions of people really are dying of hunger. Maybe it’s the ironic meta-experience of watching the movie’s violence on a huge screen, when the movie’s point is that people shouldn’t watch violence on a huge screen. Regardless, The Hunger Games is chock-full of possible psychological analysis. Today I’m focusing on the fascinatingly weird emotions that spark between the The Hunger Games’ two main protagonists, Peeta and Katniss.

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A Kiss Is More Than Just a Kiss

We often regard a kiss as a way to show affection or to create a spark. An international survey of over 900 males and females aged 18-63 found that kissing serves a greater purpose and is more than a way to increase arousal. Instead, it’s an important way to assess a partner’s quality, especially for women and for those who rate themselves as highly attractive. Those who more easily separate sex from love (i.e., high sociosexuality) rated kissing as more important early in a relationship and experienced more change in attraction (less attraction toward a partner who was initially attractive post-kiss).

Check out our other articles about kissing here.

Wlodarski, R. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi: 10.1007/s10508-013-0190-1


Another Perspective on “Speed” Dating

You might remember the 1994 movie Speed, where the characters portrayed by Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock have to drive a passenger-filled bus over 50mph through downtown Los Angeles to prevent a bomb from exploding and killing them all. Of course, they accomplish this terrifying feat, and by the end of the movie they have fallen in love. (If you haven't seen the movie, you can watch the 2 minute version here or think about the Fast & Furious franchise instead.)

The movie’s basic premise may be the stuff of wild Hollywood imaginations. But what about the idea that driving fast and near-death experiences can lead to attraction between two strangers? This probably seems pretty far-flung, but in fact, the producers of Speed got this part right.

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Premature Sextaculation

Although I have had a few dates with The Consultant, I don’t want to get too serious too quickly. In the meantime, there are still a number of guys showing interest in me on the internet dating site I have been using (which I will gladly name for a hefty fee). One guy in particular has been flirting with me quite voraciously. But he lives about an hour away, so it has not been easy to arrange a date. We recently were finally able to set something up.

A few days before the big event, he started sexting me. At first, it wasn’t totally obvious because flirtatious texting typically has sexual undertones like “I’m really looking forward to seeing you this weekend”; we had been doing a lot of that up to this point. His new approach, however, was different. His sexual references were now very explicit and his intentions became quite clear. Then, he texted a photo of himself wearing boxer briefs with a fully pitched trouser tent. Well, at least he had his underwear on. The text accompanying the picture read, “Here is a taste of the trouble you’re getting into on Friday!”

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Top 5 Classic Studies in the Psychology of Attraction

Most of the time our articles focus on current, cutting edge studies. Yet, the nature of science is that it continually builds on findings from previous research. Inevitably, current research stands on the shoulders of giants. Here are some of the “giants” or classic works in attraction research...

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Want to Get Lucky on Your Holiday Date? Skip the Mistletoe and Wear Red Instead

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, everyone knows that red is one of the colors associated with this holiday. It’s the color of Santa’s suit, Rudolph’s nose, and those tacky woolen sweaters you inevitably see at the office holiday party. However, recent research suggests that red gets us “in the mood” for more than just eggnog and gift-giving—it also increases how attractive and sexually desirable we find other people.

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Was "Love in the Wild" Created By a Reader of Science of Relationships?

Rarely do I see an ad for a reality TV dating show and think to myself, “Hey, that reminds me of a research study.” But somehow, some way, NBC’s new show Love in the Wild did just that. What I found amazing is that the show appears to have been created by someone who really enjoyed our post on how heightened arousal levels can result in greater attraction between partners.

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Scream 4: A Good Date Movie?

You're going on a date this weekend and you want to see a movie, but which movie should you go to?  You might think that going to see a romantic movie would be the most likely way to make some sparks fly between you and your date, but according to research Scream 4 is likely the better choice. It may seem odd, but there’s good reason to expect that watching a horror movie could increase attraction between partners.

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