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Human psychology is too complex to reduce to rules or laws of attraction – but that’s not the same as saying that there’s nothing to be gained from understanding the processes involved in attraction.
Understanding the science of attraction can’t guarantee you a date tonight, but it can point the way towards forming mutually benefiting relationships with other people. Well, first, it turns out that one of the strongest predictors of whether any two people will form a relationship is sheer physical proximity.
Viren Swami does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
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But too often those opinions were based on anecdotes, assumptions about human behaviour I knew to be wrong, or – worse – pure misogyny.
As a psychologist who has studied attraction, I felt certain that science could offer a better understanding of romantic attraction than all the self-help experts, pick-up artists and agony aunts in the world.
One thing that struck me very early on in my forays was that everyone had an opinion about “what worked” in terms of dating.
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View the full list Some time ago, I found myself single again (shock, horror!
While most 20th-century couplings were either formed in workplaces and colleges or through friends and families, online dating sites and dating apps are fast becoming the most common way of meeting partners and now account for about 20% of heterosexual couplings and more than two-thirds of same-sex couplings in the US.
And so I began researching the science of how we form relationships.