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Be Afraid: Why Fear is Sexy

Yesterday I caught the end of a reality show featuring several couples (didn’t even see which one was it, so I don’t know what they were competing for..) and one of them said about their first encounter that ‘if it wasn’t for the quite scary and unusual circumstances, they wouldn’t have gone on a second date, something like the beautiful reporter and the frightened men on the bridge…”.


I read something about the experiment awhile ago but couldn’t quite remember what was it all about. So I looked for it and it was a nice surprise to find IvyDate’s post on Why Fear is Sexy. Studies have shown that there’s a thin line between fear and sexual arousal – Check out the blog post below to see the link. 


Inducing Terror


In the study, an attractive female researcher approached 85 separate male passersby on a bridge. Not just any bridge—this bridge. 450 feet long, 5 feet wide, 230 feet above the river. It sways in the wind.


The researcher then asked each man to look at a picture and make up a story about it. Afterwards, she gave him her number, so that he could call afterwards and learn about the study results.


The same experiment was conducted on a nearby “control” bridge, which hovered only 10 feet over the river. Call this the “lame” bridge.


Inducing Attraction


Here’s what the study found:


1.) 50% of the men on the “terrifying” bridge called the attractive female reporter afterwards.


2.) Less that 15% of the men on the “lame” bridge called.


3.) The stories offered by the frightened men had more sexual content than those on the smaller bridge.





Both fear and romantic attraction release dopamine, the neurotransmitter we typically associate with sex, romance, and lust.


The study above illustrates misattribution theory of arousal. The men on the bridge experienced sweaty palms and increased heart rate out of fear, and then mistakenly believed that these physiological responses were due to attraction because of the attractive woman. (For a related theory, check out the two-factor theory of emotion.)


Knowing that people sometimes confuse fear and attraction may come in handy for your next amorous rendezvous.


Having said that, keep in mind:


1.) Fear and adrenaline may be partially responsible for initial attraction, but external thrills and risk-seeking behavior are not sustainable. Keep in mind that the experiment ended after exposing the initial attraction; there was no mention of a correlation between fear and a lasting relationship.


2.) If you’re basing a relationship on fear and danger, you’re going to have to keep finding more and more risky activities to do. People do a lot of ill-advised things in the name of love; don’t have tandem cliff diving be one of them.


So, the next time you’re on a skydiving date and feel close to your partner, try to decide whether you’re actually attracted to the person, or whether you’re nervous, fluttery, and irrational because you’re about to hurl yourself out of a 30,000 ft-high plane.

Go to website

It could be a matter of love and death.


Source: IvyDate Blog







Category: Dating Stuff

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