Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Science: Science's Perspective on Love

Here's a quick explanation of what we know from science about love, as well as some fun facts.
Love explained by science
Hormones: Certain hormones are involved in the human brain in generating attachment, bonding, and love. These hormones are oxytocin, vasopressin, and endorphines. Oxytocin is involved with trust, and vasopressin with faithfulness in monogamy. Endorphines are released when something *special* happens, such as when someone receives roses from someone they are attracted to, as endorphines are primarily responsible for excitement and elation. Hormones, of course, don't actually originate these feelings, however.

Monogamy in birds: A few animal species are monogamous, and even rarer are those that are monogamous for life. These are mostly birds (not mammals). Among the temporary monogamous, which are species that are monogamous only for the mating season, are the penguins. Most birds, in fact, engage in temporary monogamous relations. Some of the birds that mate with only one individual for the rest of their lives include eagles, swans, and albatrosses. Like humans, however, a few do cheat on their partners.
Certain neurotransmitters are also involved as well. Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin tend to surge in the ebbs and flows of romantic adventures, as they are also implicated with excitement and elation.

Deadbeat Dads in Fish: If a parent is judged by how much effort they put into raising their children, these dads have nothing on the worst deadbeat dad. When scientists first studied the deep-sea angler fish, they couldn't imagine how they could mate, because there would be thousands of miles between individuals. Worse, they couldn't find a single male fish.

Well, it turned out that there were males - but they weren't fish. They were swimming sacks of sperm, parasitically biting into females and releasing sperm into them. They had no eyes, gills, or digestive systems. Just bags of sperm.

A Match Made in Evolution: There are a few strange patterns found between human mates. For example, people with the gene for making broccoli taste awful tend to be married to people without that gene. When women are most fertile during their menstrual cycle, they are more attracted to masculine-looking males. When they are not, they tend to be more attracted to feminine or child-looking males. Of course, this is found via statistics, and therefore really are inapplicable for individual and specific cases. And they can't take into account individual personality and values.

Dat ***: Some evolutionary psychologists believe that the shape of a heart is really an upside down buttocks. Some of these psychologists hypothesize that many features of women's bodies have evolved to mimic the shape of the buttocks and genitalia; the lips appear like genitalia, while the breasts are shaped like the buttocks.

Makeup is Cheating!: Makeup generally mimics signs of fertility. Blush makes the cheeks appear rosier, making women look younger, healthier, and more fertile. Eyeliner makes eyes look larger, again mimicking youth (which again correlates with fertility). Lipstick may enhances the blush effect, again signalling youth and fertility. And as a small waist to hip ratio correlates well with successful child-bearing, men have evolved to be attracted to the hourglass figure (think Jessica Rabbit).

Does knowing all of these correlations take away from the mystery of love? Maybe these things can explain attraction to some degree, but really, nothing in biology can explain the intense care and cherishment involved in true love.

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