Thursday, October 30, 2008

Love at First Sight

The November-December issue of SKEPTICAL INQUIRER contains an article called "Love at First Sight," asking the age-old question (as the song puts it), "Who can explain it? Who can tell you why?" New research finds a possible explanation for instantaneous attraction in the discovery that the partners in a couple tend to look like each other "more so than chance would allow." Double-blind studies reveal that observers can correctly match up randomly selected pairs with a significant rate of accuracy. This phenomenon applies to new relationships, not just older couples who grow to look alike over the years. It seems that a dominant factor in the process of falling in love is the face, and people unconsciously identify the "right" face as one with a certain resemblance to their own.

This hypothesis undercuts the folk wisdom that "opposites attract." Also, what does it do to one of my favorite concepts, the exogamy hypothesis—that human beings are hard-wired to be drawn to the exotic and therefore would be attracted to aliens, should we ever meet any? I've think I've previously mentioned James Tiptree's poignant story propounding that theory, "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side." I've just finished rereading a novel on that theme, James Michener's tragic SAYONARA, about American servicemen falling in love with local women in postwar Japan, when both cultures regarded such romances with deep hostility. Maybe the song from WEST SIDE STORY, "Stick to your own kind," has a point. And yet happy cross-cultural and interracial marriages do exist, more so nowadays with tolerance for diversity becoming a core value in, at least, Western society. I'd like to believe fulfilling interplanetary relationships can exist, too, when we finally meet the aliens. Spock, the product of such a relationship, was always my favorite STAR TREK character.

Margaret L. Carter

1 comment:

  1. Margaret:

    I'm turning into "Johnny-One-Note" or maybe "Johanna-One-Note" but I've got to point this out.

    Facial composition can be correlated with Astrological Natal Chart -- and people of all races have the SAME sorts of Natal Chart arrangements.

    It isn't the visual similarity we respond to but the underlying composition -- which denotes a personality type.

    Of course, this can be hidden by various practical factors (injuries and scars, deliberate surgery such as the eye surgery that became popular in Japan, or things done to the infant by parents such as stretching the ear lobes).

    But humans have perceptivity way beyond mere sight. Faces are not only configured a particular way, but are "worn" a way that denotes other personality traits. Faces are MOBILE, and it's the style of movement we respond to as well as the initial composition.

    Yes, that style is always inflected by culture. (California's "Valley Girl" demeanor comes to mind).

    "Finishing School" taught demeanor. There is a "Harvard Accent." Etc.

    But with all the overlays, we do see the underlying personality in the face and the way the face is used -- and from that, we respond to personality.

    And for women at least, personality is the barbed hook that leads to love.

    Men may start off more superficially, but they get there eventually.

    Race doesn't matter nearly as much as Personality.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg