Not surprisingly, the students were pretty adept at knowing which people they would be interested in pursuing just by looking at their picture.
This is the part of the brain that calculates whether, for example, someone is right for you, regardless of what other people think.
In other words, the authors write in the , the rm PFC, “correlated not with partners desired by everybody, but with those who were especially desirable to specific participants.” The people who were most attractive overall also triggered activation of the ventromedial PFC (vm PFC), an area that has previously been found to react to appealing faces.
However, this activation didn’t predict pursuit— perhaps because of the overlaying effect of the rm PFC that included an evaluation that the beauties and cuties might be unattainable or because some people don’t find the most conventionally attractive people most attractive to them.
Dating is all about making snap judgments, and scientists have located where in the brain those decisions are made.
Researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland recruited 151 heterosexual college students for a speed dating study with a twist.
They asked 39 of the participants to have their brains scanned with a functional MRI (f MRI) prior to the event while the students looked at pictures of their potential suitors.
The participants were asked to rate the pictured individuals on a scale of one to four on whether they would be interested in pursuing dates with them.
The students also rated each of the pictured individuals on attractiveness and likeability.
These ratings were public and made available to all of the participants as they were scanned.
MORE: Online Dating Gets a Little Less Virtual During the speed dating event, the students were allowed to mingle and chat with one another for no longer than five minutes each.
At the end, they filled out a form indicating which people they wanted to see again, and for those who mutually agreed, contact information was exchanged.