Love that is accompanied by arousal (sexual or otherwise) is stronger love than love that has a lower level of arousal
Arousal polarizes judgments. In this experiment, male college students rated an attractive or an unattractive woman after they had run in place for 15 seconds (low arousal) or for 120 seconds (high arousal). The judgments under arousal are polarized.
In another interesting field study, Dutton and Aron (1974) had an attractive young woman approach individual young men as they crossed a long, wobbly suspension bridge hanging over 200 feet above the Capilano River in British Columbia. When he had finished, she wrote her name and phone number on a piece of paper and invited him to call if he wanted to hear more about the project. Over half of the men who had been interviewed on the bridge later called her. In contrast, men who were approached on a low solid bridge by the same experimenter, or who were interviewed on the suspension bridge by men, called to learn about the project significantly less frequently. Echoing our discussion of social cognition and affect, one interpretation of this finding is that the men who were interviewed on the bridge were experiencing arousal as a result of being on the bridge but that they misattributed their arousal as liking for the female interviewer.
Figure 7.7 Arousal caused by the height of this bridge was misattributed as attraction by the men who were interviewed by an attractive woman as they crossed the bridge.
These studies and many others like them demonstrate that arousal polarizes liking (Foster, Witcher, Campbell, & Green, 1998). When we are aroused, everything seems more extreme. This effect is not unexpected because the function of arousal in emotion is to increase the strength of an emotional response. And our feelings of anger, dislike, or disgust are also stronger when they are accompanied by high arousal.
The woman asked each man to help her fill out a questionnaire for a class project
As with mood states, arousal may sometimes come directly from the partner. Both very attractive and very unattractive people are likely to be more arousing than are people who are more average in attractiveness, and this arousal may create strong feelings of like or dislike. In other cases, the arousal may come from another source, such as from exercising, walking across a high bridge , or a roller-coaster ride.
The strong feelings that we experience toward another person that are accompanied by increases in arousal and sexual attraction are called passion, and the emotionally intense love that is based on passion is known as passionate love -the kind of love that we experience when we are first getting to know a romantic partner. Again, there is a clear take-home lesson for you: If you like a person and think that the person likes you in return, and if you want to get that person to like you more, then it will be helpful to create some extra arousal in that person, perhaps by going to a scary movie, taking them up a tall building for dinner, or even meeting for a workout at the gym. On the other hand, you need to be sure that the other person is initially positively inclined toward you. If not, arousing experiences could make matters even worse!
- Particularly in initial encounters, people are strongly influenced by the physical attractiveness of the other person.
- People tend to prefer people who are young, who have symmetrical facial features and bodies, and who appear average. These preferences may be because these features suggest to us that the person is healthy.