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.
If you live in a beautiful home.
We’ve all heard that women are attracted to men with nice cars. But men also appear more attractive if they are photographed in a luxury apartment. In a Cardiff Metropolitan University study, a man was photographed with a casual posture in a “high-status” luxury apartment and a “neutral-status” standard apartment context.
The men with the luxury apartments were rated significantly higher for attractiveness when presented to the female subjects. Researchers determined that the illusion of status-linked property ownership had a high impact on attraction, and that context can make all the difference.
If you own a dog.
In a University of Michigan experiment, women read vignettes about men. Whenever the story featured a person who owned a dog, women rated them with higher long-term attractiveness. This is because pet ownership signals nurturance and a tendency toward relationship commitment. It also makes you appear more relaxed, approachable, and happy.
Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by Dognition, 82% of people feel more confident approaching an attractive person if they have their dog with them. It argues that “having a dog with you is more important for first impressions than what you wear.”
Psychologists Nicolas Guéguen and Serge Ciccotti tried this out for themselves. In their research study, they had men with and without a dog ask for women’s numbers on the street. When the men had the dog with them, their success rate jumped from 1 in 10 to 1 in 3…