Isnin, 28 Julai 2008

Analysis of romance

I never thought I would write this kind of post, but I just read this article in the newspaper:

The Elixir of Love

Love really is blind, at least to temptation. Researchers at Florida State University report that people settled in a loving relationship find an attractive member of the opposite sex not alluring but repellent. The researchers, in observing a number of people and their interactions, said that "while single people were naturally attentive at the sight of an attractive face, people in loving relationships became uncomfortable and looked away." This reflex, which happens before the conscious brain can process an image, is probably an evolutionary adaptation that promotes pair bonding, according to psychologist Joseph Forgas. He concludes, "What these studies suggest is that romantic love serves a very important function, tempering our natural desire to pay attention to, and to continuously seek out, the best available mate." The Eureka Reporter
and here follows my nonsense analysis of the analysis (meta-analysis?), except of course, I immediately ignore the actual topic and drift elsewhere into TV advertising, baby bird behavior and storybooks. Yes, I'm alive, awake, aware, and myself. Thankyou muchogracias mersiboku shiashiani arigato etcetera.
Actually, that sounds right. When a pair bonds, each individual is actually feeling their own love being reflected back, which is why people can fall in love with a picture of an attractive person without ever meeting them in person, this is due to mirror neurons in the brain of humans, (found also in dolphins and great apes, but not in other animals). I think this is partly the reason for the tradition in middle eastern countries not to make images of people, to avoid developing a bond with a picture or illusion. Today, technology allows fast accurate image making (3D films, interactive video games, air brush paintings...) which can confuse the viewer into partially believing a reality that actually doesn't exist. Story telling is just another version of that, with or without photos as props. The desire to escape boring reality is simply being human. (Also, not only images are reflected, sounds also are, for example, the desire to sing along with an attractive pop star singing a love song.)

Advertisers know this very well, that's why TV commercials always feature a pretty face with their products, so watchers associate the two. That's ok, as long as you know that it's actually your own love and beauty that is being reflected back to you, and not some actor that is just getting money to pay the rent.

Mirror neurons = reflect, mimic or copy another's behavior. Humans are rich in this, that's why humans are good learners, compared to most instinctive mammals. Chicks and ducklings 'imprint' their identity and actions to copy their mother, but only for a few days when hatching, after that they stop. Humans have the ability to continue learning much longer, although many stop when they finish school, and become fixed to an unchanging job.

Oxytocin, vasopressin & dopamine: The social-romantic-reproductive hormones. These kick in as reaction to specific mirror neuron stimuli, although they may already be abundantly supplied due to oestrus cycle.

"I get a kick out of you"

And finally, aardvarchaelogist Martin on romance & chicken spam:

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