Why You Can Judge a Book (Man) by Its Cover (His Face)
by Gena Kaufman, Glamour
In a recent study, conducted in the midst of an actual speed dating event between 78 women and 73 men (all heterosexual), scientists have determined that people can gauge whether or not they’ll make a romantic connection with another in a pretty snap decision.
I mean, that’s kind of the point of speed dating, right? It’s right there in the name. But this wasn’t just about the five minutes participants were given to talk to each potential suitor. Before the event, 39 of the participants had their brain activity recorded while they viewed pictures of the people they’d meet at the event. In just a few seconds, people gave a 1 to 4 rating of how much they’d like to date each person, and rated the person’s physical attraction and likeability. Those initial interest ratings turned out to be 63% accurate to the person’s decision after the actual event.
The cool science-y breakdown? Basically, your brain has two separate reactions to make a snap judgment. First, your ventromedial prefrontal cortex is especially active when viewing someone most other people would agree is attractive. But when people saw a face that was attractive to them, but wouldn’t be commonly thought of as attractive, their rostromedial prefrontal cortex (Idea: has anyone thought of naming a band after parts of the brain?) went active. As one of the researchers said, “That region in this moment may be doing something like evaluating not just ‘Is this person a good catch?’ but ‘Is this person a good catch for me?'”