"Why him? Why her?" - and what science knows about love

Hi everyone!
Wouldn't it be fascinating to have some scientific insights into the question why some relationships work and others don't? As I was trying to find answers to this question, I stumbled on the work of Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist from the New York University, who works on the question why we fall in love and who we fall in love with.

So far it has only been known that we are attracted to people with the same general level of good looks, intelligence and education and the same cultural background. Still you can be in the same room with those people and not be attracted to any of them. So what is it that makes you feel attracted to one person rather than the other? The answer that Dr. Fisher gives lies mainly in our genes. 
Our personality is a combination of inherited attributes one can call "temperament" and experiences that shape our character. So far scientists don't really know which attributes of our personality can be inherited. But some temperament traits always seem to occur together. So, researchers came up with the hypothesis of different "personality types". The idea was that those character traits that usually occur together must be associated with the same gene that is expressed at different levels in every person. This explains why these personality types can be inherited through the generations and are independent from the cultural background. For example, if a person is novelty seeking, this person is also likely to be spontaneous, risk taking, curious and creative because all these attributes are caused by one and the same gene. 
According to Dr. Fisher every person shows a unique mix of four personality types that are associated with the expression of four different neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. 
People who express high general levels of dopamine are, as I described before, novelty seeking, willing to take risks, spontaneous, curious, creative, optimists, enthusiasts and have high levels of energy and mental flexibility. Those people Dr. Fisher called "explorers". 
On the other hand people who express high levels of serotonin are calm, social, cautious, persistent, loyal, orderly and fond of rules and facts. Dr. Fisher called them "builders".
Testosterone which is expressed in both men and women is associated with the ability of analytical and logical thinking, extracting and strategizing, tough-mindedness and emotional containedness. Those people were called "directors".
Finally it remains to describe the estrogen associated type: the "negotiator" sees the big picture and does connect disparate facts in a contextual and holistic way of thinking, also referred to as "web thinking". Additionally the negotiator has superior verbal skills, is good at reading facial expressions, gestures, postures and tone of voice, is intuitive, sympathetic, nurturing, agreeable, altruistic and emotionally expressive. 

The next part is about the procedure Dr. Fisher used to prove her idea. If you are not interested in it, go right to the results part :)
In the next step Dr. Fisher tried to determine which personality types are attracted to each other. In order to do so, there needed to be an easy and efficient way to measure which person belongs to which personality type. So, she developed a questionnaire that proposed statements like "I do things in the spur of the moment". Only the explorer would agree strongly with this statement.  For each personality type she included statements, so in the end it is possible to determine the personality type based on which statements the person agreed with. Of course, the validity of this test has been verified by saliva and blood samples of test persons before the questionnaire was released.
Now that Dr. Fisher had developed a test to successfully determine the personality type of a person, the next step was to determine, if certain personality types are drawn towards each other. In order to do so, the test was released on a dating website call "chemistry.com", where she analysed the data of 39,913 members and focused on the question which personality types were attracted to each other.

It turned out to be true that our personality types contribute to our mate choice. People with high dopamine expressions, the explores, are drawn to other explorers. The same is true for people with high serotonin expression called the builders who are drawn to other builders. In contrast to that, directors with high testosterone levels are attracted to negotiators with high estrogen expression and the other way around. In addition to that it's not only the neurotransmitter that we express the most that decides which partner we choose. Also the second neurotransmitter has a big impact.
Now, some people might say that explaining love might take its magic away. Dr. Fisher gave a very nice response to that: Only because I know all the ingredients of a chocolate cake it doesn't make it any less delicious. 
I must say that I have been pretty impressed by the work of Dr. Fisher. At first I have to admit that I mainly felt the joy of a scientist who just discovered that science can give explanations to something that so far seemed not explainable. But I also like it when I discover something new about myself. Of course I took the test and it turned out the I was a NEGOTIATOR/explorer. And most characteristics that have been described for the personality types are so true that it actually made me laugh! So, Dr. Fishers work helped me to get to know myself a little better, I made me realize why relationships didn't work in the past and it gave me some ideas  of what to look for in a man. Actually it really enhances a conversation with most people and brings them to a deeper level when you secretly work in some of the questions from the test. At least I always end up having some very nice conversations ;)   

But, back to the main topic. How can you take the test yourself? Chemistry.com still provides the test but you will have to register for free and give them some personal information in exchange (nothing that Facebook doesn’t know anyway ;) ). Test chemistry.com

I can highly recommend to take the test. It might explain why your last relationship didn't work, why your partner is right for you and it will certainly improve your the conversations you have!

All the best!


Post a Comment