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Glenn Wilson PhD, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College,University of London. IS THERE SUCH A THING?. FOUR MAIN AREAS. Attraction Arousal Romantic love Relationship stability. IS THIS AN ATTRACTIVE FACE?. WHY?. SOME PRINCIPLES OF ATTRACTION.

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Glenn Wilson PhD, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College,University of London

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Glenn wilson phd institute of psychiatry king s college university of london

Glenn Wilson PhD, Institute of Psychiatry,

King’s College,University of London

IS THERE SUCH A THING?


Four main areas

FOUR MAIN AREAS

  • Attraction

  • Arousal

  • Romantic love

  • Relationship stability


Is this an attractive face

IS THIS AN ATTRACTIVE FACE?

WHY?


Some principles of attraction

SOME PRINCIPLES OF ATTRACTION

  • Baby faces are attractive in women; tougher, swarthier looks for men.

  • Symmetry is attractive in both sexes

  • A low waist/hip ratio is attractive in women; tall, V-shaped men more attractive.

  • Vulnerability is attractive in women; ruthlessness in men (needing protection vs commanding resources).

  • Deep voice attractive in men; higher voice in women.

  • These are signals of oestrogen/fertility (women); testosterone/power (men), or signs of general health/youth.


Sniffing out complementary genes

SNIFFING OUT COMPLEMENTARY GENES

  • Smell preferences may be connected with a search for complementary genes that will broaden the immunity spectrum of our offspring.

  • Human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) govern our immune system and can be detected in body odour.

  • Some evidence that we prefer different HLAs when breeding, but similar HLAs when needing family support (e.g. when pregnant).


Triggers for sexual arousal

TRIGGERS FOR SEXUAL AROUSAL

  • These are based on innate releasers (stored sexual signals, c.f., instincts/archetypes).

  • Depend on visual templates (esp. for males).

  • Consolidated or modified by early childhood imprinting (inappropriate = fetishism).

  • Habituation occurs to particular exemplars, esp. males (Coolidge Effect).


Glenn wilson phd institute of psychiatry king s college university of london

An IRM for the human male?


Glenn wilson phd institute of psychiatry king s college university of london

Female front

Male front

Female rear


Glenn wilson phd institute of psychiatry king s college university of london

CHILDHOOD IMPRINTING OF SEX TARGETS

Cross-fostering studies reveal importance of mother-image. Lambs raised by a goat mother (left) and kids raised by a sheep mother (right) fancy the “wrong” species when grown up (effect esp. obvious for males, who depend more on “targets”.)


Other oedipal imprinting studies

Other “Oedipal” imprinting studies

  • Japanese quail raised by albino mothers prefer albino mates (Bateson 1978).

  • Hawaiians of mixed race tend to marry into ethnic group of opposite-sex parent (Jedlicka 1980).

  • Women fall in love with men of eye colour more similar to their father than mother (Wilson & Barrett 1987).

  • Photos of wives correctly matched by external judges to mothers-in-law beyond chance (Bereczkei et al 2002).


The compulsive attraction of close relatives reared apart star 18 1 88

The compulsive attraction of close relatives reared apart (Star 18/1/88)


Glenn wilson phd institute of psychiatry king s college university of london

Female fMRI (BOLD) responses to attractive males

Brain areas activated as a young woman views eligible male faces & bodies (those linking cortical pattern processing with limbic emotional areas).


Female fmri bold responses to five different men

Female fMRI (BOLD) responses to five different men

Male rated most desirable to date

1

2

3

4

5


Love in the brain

LOVE IN THE BRAIN

fMRI has also been used to find areas of brain active when love is experienced.

e.g. Brain responses to pictures of a loved partner are compared with responses to pictures of friends.

Or, brain responses to romantic pictures are compared with responses to explicit erotica.

Brain areas concerned with love are the emotional/social areas such as the amygdala and insula; those concerned with lust are more “animal” (e.g brain stem and hypothalamus).


Conditions favouring love

CONDITIONS FAVOURING LOVE

  • High arousal (even negative) promotes love bonds.

  • Gazing into each others eyes and sharing intimate details about oneself (mutual self-disclosure)may create love in the laboratory.

  • Sexual arousal and pleasure evoke a hormone called oxytocin (also responsible for mother/child bonding).

  • Being in love shares brain chemistry with obsessional/compulsive states (low serotonin)


Are we naturally monogamous

ARE WE NATURALLY MONOGAMOUS?

  • Very few animals are monogamous, and even fewer mammals. Gibbon may be only primate.

  • Most human societies recognise polygamy; those that don’t tend towards serial monogamy.

  • Males of most species have greater drive towards partner novelty (promotes gene dispersion).

  • Women may also benefit from infidelity; more attracted to lovers when fertile. But may flirt just to keep partner on his toes.


Glenn wilson phd institute of psychiatry king s college university of london

“DON JUAN” GENES

This

promiscuous, but a gene that

increases production of a

hormone in the brain called

vasopressin, transferred from

the monogamous prairie vole,

renders it faithful to one partner

meadow vole is normally


Is there a seven year itch

IS THERE A SEVEN-YEAR ITCH?

Asked “Ever wished you weren’t married?”, 1 in 5 wives said “yes”, and 1 in 7 husbands. Peak discontent occurs 6-9 years after marrying, though actual divorce peaks later (11-14 years).


A compatible pair shared tastes

A COMPATIBLE PAIR: SHARED TASTES


The compatibiity quotient

THE COMPATIBIITY QUOTIENT

  • The CQ Test is designed to predict long-term success of a relationship (after passion has cooled).

  • Comprises 25 items covering areas known to be important for relationship success.

  • Answered independently by individuals.

  • Each item has 5 possible answers arranged so that those further apart clash more.

  • A total discrepancy score is calculated between the responses of any two people and converted to a CQ score with an average of 100.


A typical cq test item

A TYPICAL CQ TEST ITEM

How important to you is sexual fidelity?

1. Absolutely essential

2. Very important

3. Odd lapse forgivable

4. You have to expect affairs

5. Would want an open, swinging, relationship


Meaning of cq scores

MEANING OF CQ SCORES

  • 145+ Freak identity: Typical of test-retest reliability (same person doing the test twice) or identical twins.

  • 130-144 Extremely compatible: Exceptionally high degree of similarity. <2% of couples.

  • 115-129 Very compatible. <20% of couples.

  • 100-114 Above average. Might work but issues to be dealt with.

  • 85-99 Below average. Warning bells sounding.

  • 70-84 Rather incompatible. Loud warning bells.

  • <70 Incompatible. Don’t even think about it!


Validity of the cq

VALIDITY OF THE CQ

  • Two studies have shown that happily married couples average about 116,compared with 100 for random pairings.

  • Those reporting the happiest marriages have the highest CQ scores.

  • This is not due to the couple growing more alike with time but to their degree of similarity at the outset of the relationship. CQs even predict the outcome of a 3 minute speed-date.

  • The CQ has application in on-line dating and marriage counselling - an early warning of potential difficulties in a relationship.


Why are we so fascinated by love

WHY ARE WE SO FASCINATED BY LOVE?

  • The reproductive imperative is our most powerfulinstinct – perhaps the only one (“selfish gene” hypothesis).

  • “The final aim of all love intrigues, be they comic or tragic, is really of more importance than all other ends in human life. What it all turns upon is nothing less than the composition of the next generation” (Schopenhauer, 1819)


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