Romantic advice from scientists


For Valentine's Day, science blogger Jason Goldman has collected seven thematic studies that offer some surprising ways to woo your intended sweetie.

Naturally, there are caveats. For one thing, few of these studies do a very good job of replicating the situations and environments natural to Western human mating rituals. Filling out a survey is rather different from making out in a dark corner. Also, being individual studies, without the weight of repeat confirmation by other researchers, following Goldman's advice may, or may not, turn out to be a terrible idea. But it is certainly entertaining. And if you have nothing to lose, then what the heck, right? Think of these suggestions as a science-inspired version of The Naked Man.

Here's another very simple tip for the ladies: frighten him. No, seriously. In 1974, University of British Columbia psychologists were studying human attraction using two bridges that crossed a local river. One bridge was solid, allowed firm footing, and was made of heavy cedar. It was only ten feet above the river, and had steady handrails. The other bridge was a five-foot-wide, 450-foot-long suspension bridge made of wire cables threaded through the ends of wooden boards. It would tilt, sway, and wobble as people tried to cross, 230 feet above the river.

Men who had just crossed one of the bridges were approached by an attractive female experimenter who asked them to complete several questionnaires. The men who had crossed the anxiety-inducing suspension bridge were more likely to attempt further contact with the experimenter than were the men who had crossed the stable bridge. The researchers suggest that it's as if the men misunderstood their anxiety-induced physiological arousal – elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and so on – interpreting it as sexual attraction and desire.

Moral of the story: scare the crap out of him and he might just make a move.

The Guardian: Valentine's Day Dating Tips from Lovestruck Scientists

Image: Some rights reserved by Oscar E.