Scientists Figure Out How Attraction Works

Researchers at Boston University have made a scientific breakthrough that allows them to explain human attraction and it’s all based on comparable interest.

The scientists pointed to a phenomenon known as the similarity-attraction effect that dictates that we tend to like people who are similar to us and share our interests, likes and dislikes. 

In a series of studies, Charles Chu, a BU Questrom School of Business assistant professor of management and organizations, tested this theory by analyzing the conditions that shape whether we feel attracted to or repulsed by each other. The research uncovered one factor that dictated attraction and that was what psychologists call self-essentialist reasoning, a process that consists of people imagining they have some deep inner core or essence that shapes who they are.

The final results of the studies indicated that when someone believes an essence drives their interests, they make an assumption that the same is true for others. Once they meet someone with one matching interest, they immediately connect with them because they assume they will have more things in common including an overall view of the world. 

“I found that both with pretty meaningful dimensions of similarity as well as with arbitrary, minimal similarities, people who are higher in their belief that they have an essence are more likely to be attracted to these similar others as opposed to dissimilar others,” said Chu.

However, Chu’s research also suggests that our inclination to connect with someone simply because of one or two shared interests may be limiting us and our options for partners. We may all too often find ourselves disliking people because of a few of their choices when they may very well be compatible with us in many other ways.

“But we only have full insight into our own thoughts and feelings, and the minds of others are often a mystery to us. What this work suggests is that we often fill in the blanks of others’ minds with our own sense of self and that can sometimes lead us into some unwarranted assumptions.”


Interest Engineering
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