Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Attraction Dynamics

Originally posted on May 11, 2013

A friend asked me—he having studied entomology— “Pheremones play a role in attracting males and females in some animals, it seems. How much attraction is there for people at this level and does it override thought processes when two people meet and form a first impression?
   I responded: Great question. We so don’t know!

An not entirely inappropriate analogy: In the olden days 10 years ago if germs didn’t grow on a culture media we assumed they weren’t there. However, new DNA technology has shown that many species of germs— 90%!—do not grow on the standard culture medium, and 85% of those don’t grow on even specialized culture media! In other words, there’s a whole lot going on around us that we don’t know.

So, returning to the question of what influences interpersonal attraction (see my website papers on “tele”) we don’t really know at all completely why people prefer and select each other. There are non-rational and illusory reasons, pressures and lures from phony and authentic cultural standards and we don’t know which is which. Even if I could say with certainty that pheromones played a part of this,  what would that then mean? What would we do more or less?

It’s becoming ever more clear that emotions and illusions override mere reason. (That’s why in the romantic songs of the mid-20th century  the dynamic of attraction was called things such as “that old black magic” and “the tender trap.” That’s why major public figures ruined or threatened to ruin their career in risking an affair.

I should note that I don’t imagine that thought processes in 94.3% of the cases are more than half logical: They’re classically rationalizations, the unconscious’ way to make it seem reasonable to pursue any goal that is felt unconsciously to be in the person’s best interest.

So first impression really deals with dimensions of attraction. Some of these become stronger as new criteria come into awareness. Again, these are numerous and mostly unconscious, with some barely conscious and a few in clear awareness. The topic is vast and these are just some introductory observations.

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