Attraction is a mysterious thing, in strange circumstances we find ourselves attracted to those who we would not usually deem our type. Scientists have now discovered that the context of meeting a potential romantic partner has a lot more to do with initial attraction than was previously thought.
A psychological phenomenon called “Misattribution of Arousal” occurs when physiological arousal is heightened due to a fear-inducing circumstance, but is mistaken for attraction. In this case, arousal is not limited to sexual arousal but physical symptoms of being in a psychological state of arousal, where the heart is racing and the individual is awake and alert. When put in a position of extreme terror or anxiety, we tend to mistake our racing hearts for the rush of adrenaline that often accompanies lust.
A popular experiment was conducted where two bridges were used to demonstrate the misattribution of arousal effect. On one suspension bridge, which swayed wildly, a woman stood in the middle asking the men to fill out a questionnaire. Following the interview, she gave her contact information for those who wanted further information on the survey. Around 50% of the men on that bridge called for follow-up questions after the experiment was conducted. On another, less fear-inducing, stable bridge, the woman stood in the same spot and offered the same interview questionnaire along with her contact information for follow-up on the survey. In this circumstance, only 12% of the men in question called.
This psychological phenomenon is not limited to our environment though, we tend to misattribute fear for love in terms of people we fear as well. This can even occur if an individual were to try and kill us. The brain is unable to decipher the source of our feelings or what they are originally stemming from. The higher the fear in a given situation, the higher the attraction. Opting for a fear-filled date, as opposed to a fun-filled date, could instill just enough anxiety to make someone fall in love with you.