The 11 Factors Involved In Falling In Love, According To Psychologists (Psychology)

Love is like a box of chocolates; there are a LOT of ingredients. Surely we’re not blowing your minds when we tell you that more is at play in the game of love than just physical attraction or a shared passion for “Game of Thrones” and pizza rolls. According to one psychologist, there are 11 distinct factors that can leave you smitten. Despite what we said earlier, nothing about chocolate appears on the list.

Credit: Gettyimages

Ayala Malach Pines, a faculty member at the School of Management at Ben Gurion University in Israel, is a clinical psychologist who studies couples. Pines authored around 60 research papers in her career, and a handful of relationship books, one of which is “Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose.” In this book, Pines breaks love down into 11 factors. So, why do we gravitate toward those certain charming weirdos we can’t help but love? Here’s what’ll do it, according to Pines:

1. Similarity in attitudes, background, personality traits. Whoever said opposites attract? (That would be Paula Abdul, but we digress.)
2. Geographic proximity. Ever heard the phrase “near and dear to my heart?” Special emphasis on the “near” part.
3. Desirable characteristics of personality and appearance. Tall, dark, and handsome. Oh, generous too.
4. Reciprocal affection. Does your crush like you back? Stalkers aren’t lovers, people.
5. Satisfying needs. Missing satisfaction? Mick Jagger can tell you about that one.
6. Physical and emotional arousal. These are the steamy waters beyond the Friend Zone.
7. Social influences, norms, and the approval of people in our circle. To quote the Spice Girls, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.”
8. Specific cues in the beloved’s voice, eyes, posture, way of moving. Are you tickled by the weird way your boyfriend dances to Journey at karaoke? Oh yeah, you’ve been bitten by the lovebug.
9. Readiness for a romantic relationship. One-night stands need not apply.
10. Opportunities to be alone together. For obvious reasons.
11. Mystery, in the situation or the person. A little enigma only makes things more interesting.

Feeling single and salty? Don’t worry; we’re here for you. You can use the above points to track down a love interest, too. Because geographic proximity is a huge factor, for instance, hang out regularly in places where a potential date might also want to chill. And just keep going there. As psychologist Peter M. Vishton, Ph.D. explains in the video below, repeated exposure increases our liking for basically everything, whether that be music, exotic foods, or certain people. It’s a start.

If you’re not sure whether or not you can check off each item on that list, just hop in an MRI. Good ol’ science is here to save the day again. A 2015 study provided the “first empirical evidence of love-related alterations in brain functional architecture,” meaning you could actually tell if someone is in love based on what their brain scan looks like. Romantic, isn’t it?

This 3-Second Trick Will Keep You From Saying Something You’ll Later Regret (Psychology)

Remember that time you reacted explosively to your coworker’s incessant whistling while you were trying to work? And how awkward it was the day after you accidentally lost your cool on him? It doesn’t have to be that way. There are three easy questions you can ask yourself in your head to avoid saying or doing something you’re bound to regret later.

Everyone gets irritated from time to time — you can’t help that. The way you respond to that irritation is something you can have complete control over. An article from Inc. points to a perhaps unlikely source for a tip in managing your emotions before you accidentally go off on someone: comedian Craig Ferguson. During a stand-up special in 2011 (there is some explicit language in the linked YouTube video), Ferguson offered his communication advice as part of a larger bit. But the advice he offers holds legitimate weight as practical advice.

According to Ferguson, there are three quick questions you should ask yourself in your head before you accidentally say something you’ll later end up regretting:

• Does this need to be said?
• Does this need to be said by me?
• Does this need to be said by me, now?

These three questions are basically an exercise of self-reflection, which is careful thought about your own behavior and beliefs. It’s a practice that has shown to be beneficial in psychology research. In a 2014 study, employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting on lessons learned performed 23 percent better after 10 days than those who didn’t self-reflect. A Harvard study that looked at commuters found similar positive results: Those who were told to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than those who didn’t self-reflect on their way to work.

Ferguson’s three questions may not necessarily be your three questions, and self-reflection is the key to identifying which questions can calm you down in the heat of the moment. If getting too heated isn’t your issue in reactionary speaking, self-reflection can help you get to know your habits and tendencies. Once you build up this self-awareness, you can come up with custom questions you can ask yourself to balance your emotions.

ZenCrate Could Help Soothe Your Dog’s Anxiety (Amazing Products)

A thunderstorm is brewing. How do you know? Your dog Milo is showing classic signs of distress: panting, shaking, and pacing around the room. To make matters worse, you’re about to leave for work. A “smart” den could save your pup’s day. ZenCrate was designed to help dogs cope with their greatest anxieties, including thunderstorms, fireworks, and separation.

Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts tells Medical Daily that 20 percent of the 80 million dogs in the U.S. suffer from separation anxiety. For senior dogs, this number climbs to nearly 50 percent. What’s the root of this anxiety? Emotional distress. While dog owners can combat anxiety with medication, they’re slow to take effect. Now, your dog can retreat to a crate that’s designed to be the ultimate doggy safe house.

When your pup enters a ZenCrate, the crate senses their entry and starts playing a soothing playlist of over 1000 songs “selected based on research studies.” The acoustics were designed to block out loud thunder or fireworks noises, while keeping in the comforting tunes. ZenCrate also incorporates a memory foam mattress and technology that decreases vibrations. Pair these features with the crate’s “confined geometry” and “reduced light exposure,” and you have the perfect canine cocoon.

If you’re still worried about your pup—they’ve got you covered. ZenCrate comes with a Wi-Fi enabled camera that lets you see your dog from your smartphone. That way, you can make sure Milo is enjoying his reggae music. It was also designed to be attractive in your home, with a wooden finish and detachable door inserts. If you need an extra push to preorder your crate, ZenCrate also comes with a motion-activated fan and a battery backup. Milo’s all set.

The Kea’s Laughter Makes Other Birds Laugh Too (Animals / Biology)

Regardless of your opinion of TV shows with laugh tracks, studies show that adding canned laughter after a joke makes people more likely to laugh along with it. That’s because laughter, like other human emotions, is contagious. A few other mammals have demonstrated infectious emotion, too, but the kea of New Zealand is the first non-mammal species to show contagious emotion. When one kea “laughs,” other keas laugh too.

The kea is a pretty delightful bird. The highly intelligent parrots play constantly, performing acrobatics in the air, tossing objects from one to another, wrestling each other, and frequently playing solo by manipulating objects with their beaks or feet. “Although it is important not to anthropomorphize animal behavior, it is very clear to anyone working or living with kea that they are intelligent, social, and take pleasure in playing with each other—much like we see in other cognizant species, including ourselves,” kea conservationist Tamsin Orr-Walker told National Geographic.

Scientists noticed that kea made a specific warbling sound when they were playing, and they wondered if it could be spread among other birds of their species the way laughter is spread among humans. To find out, the researchers recorded the sounds kea make when they’re playing, plus other calls made by kea and birds of other species. Then they ventured out and played the calls for wild kea.

Sure enough, when either male or female kea heard the play warble, they spontaneously started to play themselves, either with the bird next to them or on their own. They didn’t do the same thing with the other calls. The researchers concluded that this particular warble seemed to be “acting as a positive emotional contagion”—in other words, kea laughter is downright infectious.

This Little Rodent Mates For Life. Can It Teach Humans How To Love? (Neuroscience)

If you want a good relationship role model, look no further than the prairie vole. These adorable creatures don’t just mate for life; they also have surprisingly egalitarian relationships, splitting parental duties and nest-building tasks equally. It’s easy to understand why they’re such a popular test subject for scientists studying social behavior. A 2013 study uncovered a clue as to why these mousy creatures are so faithful: The act of mating actually changes their genes.

Scientists know that the neurotransmitters oxytocin and vasopressin are big drivers of pair-bonding, both in humans and in voles. They also know that partnered prairie voles have higher levels of those chemicals than voles who have yet to mate. They’ve even dosed montane voles, another vole species that plays the field more than its prairie brethren, with those neurotransmitters and watched them become hopeless romantics — or become more monogamous, at least.

But they still didn’t know one thing. “If mating causes the release of the neuropeptide, how does this kick into a higher gear for the rest of the animal’s life?” Thomas Insel, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, asked Nature. It’s a good question. It’s easy enough to see what happens in the brain during the magical rollercoaster of new love, but it’s not that easy to figure out why those changes stick around after you’ve been together for a while. Luckily, Florida State University researchers were on the case.

For a study published in 2013 in the journal Nature, neuroscientist Mohamed Kabbaj and his team gathered voles who had been shacked up together for six hours but hadn’t mated. Then, they injected some of the voles’ brains with trichostatin A (TSA), a drug that blocks an enzyme that usually prevents gene expression. They specifically targeted the nucleus accumbens, the brain region that’s associated with feelings of reward and pleasure. They found that, even though they hadn’t mated and had only been together for a few hours, the voles treated with TSA formed pair bonds — and, tellingly, had higher levels of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. When they compared the brains of TSA-treated voles with the brains of voles who had mated, they found similar patterns. This told the researchers that mating actually changes the expression of genes that code for those neurotransmitters.

What, exactly, does this mean for humans? It suggests that once you’re in love, your brain may be forever changed. If what’s true of voles is true of humans, epigenetic changes might take that cocktail of chemicals that flooded your brain when you fell in love and keep them going so you stay in love. Your sweetie may have changed your life, but they may have also changed your genes.

How To Handle It When You Get Emotional At Work, According To Science (Psychology)

Ask people the most embarrassing thing that could happen at work and crying will likely top many people’s lists. But while crying at the office is dreaded, it’s also far from rare — work can be a pressure cooker of stress, exhaustion, and interpersonal tension, after all. So what should you do if the worst happens and you burst into tears in front of your boss or colleagues? Science has the answer.

What’s so terrifying about getting emotional at the office? Besides letting your professional mask slip to reveal the messy, complicated human being underneath, crying at work can kill your reputation for authority and control. No one wants to follow a leader that can’t hold it together when the going gets tough.

“Crying … is just one of a menu of communication blunders that, in a mere instant, can suck the executive presence right out of you,” economist and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett has written.

But while tearing up can signal a lack of mental toughness, it also shows your commitment. No one cries at work when they make a mistake on their last day, after all. So the way to deal with tears at work, according to science, is to spin them not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of passion.

Through a series of experiments, a team of business school professors from INSEAD, Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Michigan recently tested how reframing an emotional outburst as a sign of passion affected co-workers’ perceptions of an emotional colleague. Whether the researchers asked volunteers to imagine someone breaking down or to recall real-life emotional outbursts, the findings were the same — tell people you’re crying out of passion and they’ll perceive you as more competent than if you simply ignore or apologize for the incident.

“Overall, participants preferred the rationale of passion and, on average, rated the ‘passionate’ employee’s competency as 20 percent higher than that of the employee who offered no excuses. The next best answer was simply apologising. Even attributing the outburst to sheer emotion was better than giving no explanation,” explained INSEAD professor and study co-author Elizabeth Baily Wolf on INSEAD Knowledge.

As Baily Wolf points out in her article, this isn’t just theoretical. It’s a technique that smart executives already use in the real world. “Just ask Tesla CEO Elon Musk,” she writes. “At the beginning of Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this month, he choked up briefly as he said, ‘Thank you for buying our product. We’re doing everything we can to make it as good as possible, as fast as possible.’ He then added, ‘This is going to sound a little cheesy, but at Tesla we build our cars with love.'” Musk, in other words, blamed his passion for his out of control emotions.

So the next time you get emotional at work, don’t ignore or just apologize for it. Instead, be like Musk and cite your passion. You’ll probably still be embarrassed, but your reputation as a professional will remain solid.

Two Traits Determine How Likely You Are To Cheat On Your Partner (Psychology)

They say that nothing hurts like heartbreak does. Unfortunately, one of the risks of a romantic relationship is that your partner will betray your trust. If only there was some way to predict a person’s likelihood of cheating before you actually start dating. Well, the good news is that there is a way to make an informed guess. The bad news? We have no idea how you’re going to suggest it.

In a new study led by Dr. Jim McNulty and his team at Florida State University, researchers kept tabs on 233 couples for three and a half years, beginning when they were newlyweds. They homed in on two distinct traits that they thought might influence the likelihood of cheating and organized two different studies to measure each trait’s influence on unfaithful behavior. In order to do so, they gave both partners in each couple a behavioral test or two, then kept in correspondence with them for the remainder of the experiment. Occasionally, they asked participants to fill out a survey about any infidelity, how committed they felt to their partner, the happiness of their relationship, and whether or not they were still married.

The first behavioral trait the researchers looked at was something called “attentional disengagement.” This basically refers to the amount of time between when a person starts paying attention to something and when they stop, often a matter of milliseconds. The phenomenon has been used in lots of other psychological studies, like this one that showed how the subconscious ways we decide where to direct our attention shape our mood and outlook. But for the FSU study, the researchers wanted to see how quickly the participants tore their eyes from pictures of attractive people. The results? The faster people looked away from the faces of very attractive people, the less likely they were to cheat — even shaving a couple hundred milliseconds off their gaze was enough to reduce the chances of infidelity by half.

The other main factor on the researchers’ radar? What they call “devaluation of alternatives.” It’s also long been a staple of psychological studies into relationship dynamics. For the second group, the researchers didn’t just measure how quickly the participants shifted their eyes elsewhere. They also explicitly asked the recruits to evaluate the attractiveness of a set of portraits. The people who evaluated attractive portraits as less attractive were significantly more likely to stay faithful to their partners. Makes sense if you think about it, although the researchers point out that neither devaluation nor disengagement are conscious behaviors. In other words, you might not be aware that you’re doing either one — but knowing about how they work might give you a foundation to start cultivating more partner-friendly habits.

Here’s Why You Admire Vulnerability In Everyone But Yourself (Psychology)

This is it: the moment of truth. Maybe you’ve got to apologize for a screw-up, or ask for a favor, or tell someone how you really feel about them. Whatever your specific situation, the fact is that at some point in your life, you’re going to have to make yourself vulnerable, and it’s not going to be fun. Even if it all goes well in the end, making yourself vulnerable is awkward, and you end up judging yourself harshly for it later. What’s weird is that when you see somebody else displaying vulnerability, you judge them too — except in that case, it’s positive. As it turns out, there’s a word — and a reason — for that effect.

Being vulnerable comes in a lot of different flavors. It might look like asking your crush out on a date, or volunteering to go first at karaoke, or trying to mend a broken friendship. It takes a lot of bravery to risk hurt feelings, harsh criticism, or outright rejection, so perhaps it’s not surprising that we would have such a hard time leaping into vulnerability. What’s interesting, though, is the well-documented fact that most of the time, showing vulnerability works out in the vulnerable person’s favor.

Inspired by the work of Brené Brown, whose speech “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the top-watched TED talks ever, psychologist Anna Bruk and her colleagues at the University of Mannheim set out to find out why we value vulnerability in others while shying from it ourselves. They call this phenomenon the “beautiful mess effect.”

First, the team had to document the effect. Their report involved putting people in both real and hypothetical situations that would require a degree of vulnerability from them. For example, one of the studies asked participants to imagine a scenario such as confessing romantic feelings or admitting a mistake, then rate the courage that such an action displayed. In some scenarios, it was the participant performing the action; in others, it was some imaginary person. Over and over again, other people were rated as showing more courage than the participants themselves.

Of course, that’s just a hypothetical situation. Things might be different in a real-world scenario. For another study in the series, the researchers told participants that they would be a part of a live, impromptu concert. In some versions, they were told that they would be the ones singing in front of a jury; others had them believing they’d be watching someone else as a member of the jury. In none of these cases was anyone actually asked to sing, but once again, participants consistently rated the strangers as showing more bravery than they themselves did — even though they were theoretically going to be asked to do the same exact thing.

So why would it be that a person would judge the same act to be braver and more laudable when somebody else does it? According to the team, it all comes down to a person’s construal levels. Your construal level is measured in relation to your distance from a particular event, be it physical, psychological, temporal, or hypothetical. For example, if you’re imagining a person being asked to juggle on the other side of the world 100 years ago, your relationship to that act of juggling would have a very high construal level. Asked to imagine yourself juggling in the next hour, and your construal level is suddenly very low.

As it turns out, when you view something with a low construal level, you’re more likely to focus on the ancillary details and mitigating factors — things like “I had a sore throat last night,” “I’ve never sung this song in front of people,” or “These people might hate my voice.” But if you imagine singing in front of other people with a high construal level (like if you think it’s going to be someone else singing), you’re more likely to focus on the broader, general picture: “Singing in front of other people is a brave thing to do.” So if you need to muster up the courage to do something risky, maybe the secret will be to take a step back and imagine somebody else doing it — if they can, so can you!

Why Do Onions Make Us Cry (Science / Food)

Sometimes a strange but simple fact—that onions make you cry, for example—is so accepted that you forget to ever stop and wonder…why? That is, until you’re chopping with a 3-year-old who gets mad at you because you made her weep for no reason. For example.

How does it work? So what’s going on with onions that make you cry, or make you shell out $20 for a pair of onion goggles? As Eric Block, author of the book Garlic and Other Alliums (onions are part of the plant genus allium) explained to NPR, “the onion is a perennial bulb that lives in the ground with lots of critters who are looking for a snack.” And so they have a chemical defense system, which, like a skunk fending off predators with a stench, releases the tear-jerker chemical to protect itself from being eaten. Within each cell of an onion is a sealed vacuole filled with enzymes that rupture when cut into. The enzymes then mix with other chemicals in the onion cell and, in Blocks words, “a whole cascade of chemical processes happen within an instant.”

The result of all those chemical processes are syn-propanethial-S-oxide molecules, the irritating culprit making you (or your 3-year-old) cry. “[It] really is quite beautiful from a scientific viewpoint,” Block said.

So what can I do? You’ve probably heard plenty of tips: Hold a silver spoon in your mouth, hold a piece of bread in your mouth, cut the onion underwater, use a super sharp knife… But Block’s tip is simple, and makes plenty of sense once you understand the onion science. “If you just cut the onion in a stream of air blowing away from your face,” he says, “then you’ll pull the molecules away and they won’t get to your eyes.”