Understanding the science of attraction can’t guarantee you a date tonight, but it can point the way towards forming mutually benefiting relationships with other people. Well, first, it turns out that one of the strongest predictors of whether any two people will form a relationship is sheer physical proximity.Edward Royzman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asks me to list four qualities on a piece of paper: physical attractiveness, income, kindness, and fidelity.As a psychologist who has studied attraction, I felt certain that science could offer a better understanding of romantic attraction than all the self-help experts, pick-up artists and agony aunts in the world.And so I began researching the science of how we form relationships.One thing I learned very quickly was that there are no “laws of attraction”, no guarantees of success in dating, no foolproof methods or strategies for getting someone to date you.Human psychology is too complex to reduce to rules or laws of attraction – but that’s not the same as saying that there’s nothing to be gained from understanding the processes involved in attraction.In this age of rationality and endless data, intuition is often looked upon as an inferior means of problem-solving. I do not know that I am,” remarked Albert Einstein before his theory of relativity was tested and confirmed as the basis of a new way of looking at the world.Yet in many situations, even in the hard sciences, it is the most useful means of all. The value of intuition is underplayed in many areas of life, nowhere less so than in online dating.
For example, they require you to describe yourself in words (your characteristics and interests, loves and hates); to sum up the attributes of the sort of person you’d like to be with (fun-loving? The psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West (and, more recently, Daniel Kahneman in his book ) call this kind of approach to problem-solving “system 2”.
"There have been times when I'm getting messages from a lot of people," he said, "and you have to remember that you're there to find what you want, not to say yes to anyone and everyone who approaches you."This can lead us to retract.
Viren Swami does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
Humans are remarkably adept at navigating complex social worlds and instinctively picking up on familiar signs that might indicate compatibility.
As a species we’ve been doing this for millions of years; as individuals all our lives.