Roller Coasters, Bridges, and Electroshock

Kandy Laboratory

By: Jeremiah Adler

Roller Coasters, Bridges, and Electroshock

                So you’ve been texting this cute model/actress/waitress for the past two weeks, and she finally agreed to go out with you (why isn’t it ever model/actress/tax-attorney?). Congratulations… but now you’re in trouble!

            The Cabo Cantina where you met was dimly-lit… She’d been sneaking drinks from the bar all-night when she gave you her number… And let’s face it: With the lights on, you look a lot more like Steve Buscemi than Ryan Gosling. Guy and 2 girls photos goes around here

            You could start reading up on French wine and practicing the phrase, “I love Katherine Heigl movies!” with a straight face, but mounting scientific evidence shows that there is a much more effective way to build attraction.

            In this month’s Kandy Laboratory, we’re going to exploit science and learn how stimulating one of the most basic human emotions can instantaneously give you the edge you need to seal the deal.

Roller Coasters

University of Texas – Austin

            A couple of researchers at UT Austin (which happens to be one of the biggest party schools in the country) felt like blowing off work and going to Six-Flags – Fiesta Texas. But when they arrived, they realized that the place was expensive-as-shit! Instead of paying the $59.99 General Admission + $20.00 Parking + Tax, our intrepid scientists devised a plan…  “A study of human-sexuality that involves roller-coasters and attraction!” (A phenomenal idea, that subsequently allowed them to bill the university for the entire trip.)[1]

 

THE EXPERIMENT

The psychologists stood at the entrance of a roller-coaster with a picture of a man and asked the women in line to rate how attractive he was.

Then they repeated the test at the ride’s exit.

The Question: Would the “Oh-shit-that-ride-was-scary-factor” experienced by the women in the aftermath of the roller-coaster affect how attracted they were to the man in the picture?

The Answer: Abso-fucking-lutely!

             Using the universally accepted International Ten Point Scale of Human Attractiveness or ITPSHA, officially sanctioned by the United Nations in 1957 under Secretary-General Dag Hammarsjöld (look it up!)… The women entering the ride rated the man in the picture a 4.2 out of 10.

            But when the women saw the picture after they had just experienced a terrifying roller-coaster, the exact same man averaged 5.7 out of 10!

             No fancy car, no expensive clothes, no mail-order sex-pheromones derived from the urine of a wild boar in heat… Simply accelerating the women’s bodies to a hundred miles per hour and then flipping them upside down had increased this man’s attractiveness more than 1.5 points!

Which brings us to…

Bridges

University of British Columbia

            There’s a footbridge in Canada that’s scary-as-shit. With a span longer than a football field, built from wire-cables and wooden-planks, it towers two hundred and fifty feet above violent rapids and jagged rocks… a morbid reminder of the tourists that have fallen to their deaths over the years.

            Naturally, a couple of social-psychologists from The University of British Columbia thought that this would be the perfect place to study human attraction, so they enlisted the help of a couple female coeds, and began flirting with tourists as they crossed the scary-as-shit Capilano Suspension Bridge.

 THE EXPERIMENT

            They approached men on the bridge, struck up a phony conversation, and then gave them a fake phone number.

            Then the coeds followed the same procedure a few miles down the canyon, on a much safer, non-fear-inducing “control” bridge.

            Then they waited…

            To the men’s disappointment, when they dialed the phone number, they did not get a hot nineteen-year-old on the other end of the line. A pimply-faced work-study undergrad answered, informing them that they would not be getting laid at the Motel 6 that evening, and that they were simply being counted as part of a social experiment (and you wonder why people hate scientists).

             The Question: Would the “Oh-shit-this-bridge-is-scary-factor” experienced on the scary-as-shit bridge affect how likely the men were to call the woman for a date?

The Answer: Abso-fucking-lutely!

             When the men were approached on the safe, “control” bridge, they only called the woman for a date 12% of the time. But when they were given the phone-number on the scary-as-shit-bridge, the percentage of men who called shot up to 50%!

Electroshock

University of British Columbia

 THE EXPERIMENT

            Scientists constructed a laboratory filled with torturous-looking electrical devices that would make Saddam Hussein blush (if he still could).

            They brought in a freshman boy, sat him next to a freshman girl, then lied, telling him that they were studying the relationship between pain and learning, when in reality, they were studying the relationship between fear and attraction.

            He was instructed to flip a coin, and told, “If the coin lands on heads, you will receive a pleasant, tingling electric pulse. If the coin lands on tails, you will receive an intense, painful shock.”

            But before the shock could be administered, the boy was escorted out of the room and asked to rate how attractive the girl was. Illustration goes around here

             The Question: Would the fear of an impending painful electric shock affect how attracted the boy was to the girl?

             The Answer: Abso-fucking-lutely!

                       When the freshman expected nothing more than a mild tingle, they rated the girl as a frumpy 5.8 (all the hot girls were busy drinking wine coolers at Kappa Sigma Pi).

            But when the boys were expecting a painful shock, her “hotness” value shot up to an astonishing 7.4!

   What the hell is going on?

            When a person experiences fear, their body produces a biological response. Adrenaline is released which causes perspiration and an elevated heart rate, forcing the body to consume more oxygen, which in turn makes the lungs breathe more rapidly.

            When a person feels attraction, there’s also adrenaline, sweat, and an elevated heart rate that will, according to a cheesy 80’s love song, simply “Take your breath away!” Scientists call this “Excitation Transfer” or “Misattribution of Arousal”, where the two most powerful human emotions produce the exact same physiological response, which leads to an extraordinary case of mistaken identity.

            When the psychologist’s subjects were being threatened with electrocution, or terrified by the rickety old bridge, or twisted upside down by the roller coaster, their primitive brains tricked themselves into thinking they were feeling attraction, when in reality, they were simply afraid.

How this works for me?

            While donning a hockey-mask and hiding in the bushes outside sorority-row is still a bad idea, so is taking your date to dinner-and-a-movie.

            If you’re an average looking dude that clocks in at about a 6, by stimulating your date’s adrenaline, you can bring your looks and desirability up to a 7.5… and according to U.N. Resolution 176(1970) “Any man/woman may lay with another man/woman 2 points above or below his/her ITPSHA value.” (seriously, look it up!)… you can now land a solid 9.5 bombshell.

             So worry not, Steve Buscemi! Take that Cabo Cantina model/actress/waitress sea-kayaking, go-karting, cliff-jumping, surfing, hiking, mountain-biking, ATVing, paintballing, snowboarding, sailing, shark-diving…  Anything that gets her adrenaline pumping. She’ll mistake the anxious flutter of her heart for attraction, and you will be one step closer to looking like the guy from The Notebook.

                       Thank you science!

References:

Dutton, D. G., and Aron, A. P. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 510–517.

Meston, C. M., & Frohlich, P. F. (2003). Love at first fright: Partner salience moderates roller coaster–induced excitation transfer. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 537–544

[1]     It is not the author’s intention to insinuate that Dr. Cindy M. Meston, Ph.D., and Penny F. Frohlich, M.A. broke University of Texas’s Faculty Code of Honor and Conduct by conducting research at an amusement park while eating frozen lemonade and waiting in line at the Superman Tower of Power.