And the scientific secret to happily ever after is….

Posted by: on Oct 25, 2013 | No Comments


Dozens of scientific studies have begun to explore how people fall in love. Below is a list of ten research areas which are providing new insights into how we can build and maintain stronger relationships.

  1. Arousal. Studies by psychologist Arthur Aron of Stony Brook University show that people tend to bond emotionally when aroused through exercise, adventures or exposure to dangerous situations. You can read a more detailed explanation of this theory in Aron’s Guest Expert contribution on More Sex Daily.
  2. Proximity and familiarity. Studies by Stanford University social psychologists Leon Festinger and Robert Zajonc and others conclude that the mere exposure effect – or simply being around someone – tends to produce positive feelings. When two people consciously and deliberately allow each other to invade their personal space, feelings of intimacy can grow quickly.
  3. Similarity. Opposites sometimes attract, but research by behavioral economist Dan Ariely of Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others shows that people usually tend to pair off with those who are similar to themselves — in intelligence, background and level of attractiveness. Some research even suggests that merely imitating someone can increase closeness.
  4. Humor. Marriage counselors and researchers Jeanette and Robert Lauer showed in 1986 that in long-term, happy relationships, partners make each other laugh a lot. )ther research reveals that women often seek male partners who can make them laugh — possibly because when we are laughing, we feel vulnerable.
  5. Novelty. Psychologist Greg Strong of Florida State University, Aron and others have shown that people tend to grow closer when they are doing something new. Novelty heightens the senses and also makes people feel vulnerable.
  6. Inhibitions. Countless millions of relationships have probably started with a glass of wine. Inhibitions block feelings of vulnerability, so lowering inhibitions can indeed help people bond.  People who have had a few drinks are more likely to swap secrets and that helps the bonding process. See self-disclosure below.
  7. Kindness, accommodation, gratitude and forgiveness. A variety of studies confirm that we tend to bond to people who are kind, sensitive and thoughtful. Gratitude is the most highly rated emotion in happy long-term relationships.
  8. Touch and sexuality. Getting very near someone without actually touching can have a positive effect  and the simplest touch can produce warm, positive feelings. Sex is clearly a bonding experience and men produce oxytocin, the bonding hormone after ejaculation. Studies by social psychologist Susan Sprecher of Illinois State University, among others, also show that sexuality can make people feel closer emotionally, especially for women.
  9. Self-disclosure. Research by Aron, Sprecher and others indicates that people tend to bond when they share secrets with each other. Once again, the key here is allowing oneself to be vulnerable.
  10. Commitment. We are not that good at honoring our relationship commitments in the U.S., but studies by researchers such as psychologist Ximena Arriaga of Purdue University suggest that commitment is an essential element in building love. People whose commitments are shaky interpret their partners’ behavior more negatively.


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