View Full Version : Unpredictability and Neurochemistry of Attraction

10-19-2002, 05:20 AM
I came across this discussion in Dave DeAngelo\'s (DD) newsletter discussing Attraction and how the neurochemistry of it seems to be affected by being unpredictable. Figured some of you might find it interesting and wondered whether some of the science folk (in particular JVKohl knows anything more about this). I\'ve excerpted certain parts of the article here (It\'s taken from correspondence from DD and some guy who wrote to him). For full text see DD\'s website (www.doubleyourdating.com):

<<<<<<<<<<<<Excerpt from e-mail from some guy to DD

The brain has a part of it responsible for the release of
a powerful adrenaline called dopamine. This has a more
powerful effect than any man made hallucinogenic. The
release of dopamine is controlled by an area of the brain
known as the anterior cingulate (AC). Recent studies on
man, ape and other animals has shown that this part of the
brain behaves in rather strange ways.

When the mind gets something that is unexpected (such as
a win in the case of an early stage gambler - or an
\"insult\" to a beautiful woman who is used to an entirely
different response) then the AC fires and dopamine is

When we do NOT get something that we EXPECT to get...then the AC also fires. (Such as a 10/10 bird expecting to receive some form of adoration - and NOT getting it)
However....and this is the key....when we receive the
stimulus that we expect to get, the AC remains silent.

This research is well documented and the functioning of
the AC is neither my concept nor my preserve of expertise.
However, I would like to propose that this form of
functioning - and whether it remains within the domain of
the AC or in some other area of the brain remains to be
seen - is precisely what is going on when we are attracted
to someone.

Without going into too much boring detail....perhaps it
is just possible that all forms of human attraction are
governed by the same rules. We find women to be attractive,
not only because of their physical beauty but also
precisely because they always do what we do not expect them to do and likewise often do not do the things that we do
expect. This has some primal locus in the survival

Similarly, attractive (should I rather say beautiful)
women come to expect certain reactions from men simply
because that is what they have learned to expect. After a
while, the AC learns to assimilate this as a given or
expected response and thus no longer gives the female brain
(bearing in mind that the same reaction occurs in men) the
shot of dopamine it craves. It doesnt get its fix. So when
someone comes along that either does something completely
unexpected or alternatively does not do what is expected,
then the AC fires and the brain receives its fix - for the
time being until the unexpected becomes the expected. This
would explain why people get bored with each other after a
certain time, and it is interesting to note that research
has shown that it takes about two to three years for a
gambling (or any other form of addiction) to manifest as
such. Odd that it also seems to take about the same length
of time for humans to become bored with each other and seek out another mate - although societal conditioning seems to prohibit us from really making a break at this stage.

The trick as far as the maintenance of a long term
relationship is concerned, perhaps, is to regularly change

To conclude, I propose that there may well be some
considerable logic behind attraction between the sexes, and
that this is based in the same mechanism that causes
addiction in people. Attraction is merely another form of

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<DD\'s response

There is a region of the brain that is closely related to the
area that you\'ve described called \"Broca\'s Region\". This area
is linked to language and prediction. Broca\'s region is
constantly predicting what\'s about to happen, and it\'s
constantly watching out for the UNPREDICTABLE. If something unpredictable happens, it alerts the rest of the brain, and a person\'s attention is immediately focused on that thing. On the other hand, if what happens is predictable, then it is automatically discounted and kept out of awareness.

A problem that most guys have is that they do things that are
very, very predictable, and therefore never even get the
ATTENTION of the woman that they\'re interested in... nevermind make progress, get a date, etc.

For instance, most guys will approach an attractive woman, act nervous and almost apologetic - and like they\'re seeking her approval - and then ask something stupid like \"You probably have a boyfriend, huh?\" or \"Can I take you out sometime?\"

Not only are these things predictable and boring, but they\'re
also bad for many other reasons as well...

Attractive women get this kind of thing so much that they begin to actually DISCOUNT any man who even LOOKS like this might be what he\'s communicating.

And, as you\'ve pointed out above, nothing \"fires\" in her mind.
The boring approach is discounted, and the man is mentally
put into the \"no\" category before he even has a chance to have a meaningful conversation. After this labeling process,
virtually nothing he can do can get him out of this category
in the woman\'s mind, and the game is now over.

On the other hand, when a man approaches a woman and does all the RIGHT things in an interesting, unpredictable way, the woman\'s brain \"fires\", and she feels ATTRACTION. And then nothing that SHE does can change it. Her mind has put him into the \"attractive\" category, and her emotions take over.

The lesson here?

Don\'t be predictable. Be an interesting, unpredictable challenge to women.

10-19-2002, 05:51 AM
Makes sense to me.

Wasn\'t there a book called Brocas Brain? I didn\'t read it but I remember the title.

Could we take this a step further and apply it to why I can\'t hold a job for more than a couple of years. Really. 3 years for me is the limit. After that I just get so miserable that I just can\'t stand it any more. My previous job I had for 6 years and the last three were unbearable. Now I\'m approaching 18 months in my present position and you know what. I can feel it coming.

10-19-2002, 07:43 AM
Maybe Bruce could transfer this thread to the Pheromone Forum.

10-19-2002, 07:47 AM
I believe it is also true that it was found that an intermittant reinforcement schedule is the one most likely to \"hook.\" In other words, if the animal gets a food pellet every time he presses the red pellet, he learns to expect a reward but he\'ll walk away from it eventually out of boredom. But if he gets a reward most of the time but not ALL of the time from doing the exact same behavior, his attention is captured and he\'ll keep trying and keep trying. Like the slot machines.

Yeah, you gotta mix it up from time to time, for sure!

10-19-2002, 09:19 AM
What you say is very interesting and it possibly also explains why the old advice that women are told works i.e. \"play hard to get\" : rewarding the guy every now and then with attention etc. but holding out until he gives indications of finally being \"addicted\" to her ( IOW until she clearly sees he has developed a major crush/is in love with her.) So the intermittent reinforcement I guess is another variation on this whole notion of unpredictable behavior triggering dopamine release.

EXIT63: Wish I knew more about this stuff but logically it does seem to follow that this probably explains why that occurs with you. For me, for example, I can\'t work a regular desk job 9 to 5 - the monotony would drive me nuts, hence my getting into computers/network administration - enough variety to keep me from climbing the walls - so perhaps this mechanism is also involved. Any neurochemists in the house?? :-)

10-19-2002, 09:40 AM
3 years is my top with any job, too. I\'m coming up on 3 years at my present place, in December. What I\'ve figured out is to keep moving in the company you\'re with. I stay with my one favorite that I\'m committed to, my senior attorney, but the juniors come and go. That keeps it fresh for me. The other thing that helps me is to stay completely away from places where coworkers congregate. Morale\'s pretty high where I work, but I\'ve found even here, folks in lounge/break areas gossip and talk administration down, and it will piss me off/depress me if I hear someone else has been treated unfairly or badly and make me not want to work there anymore.
The internet\'s also been a saving grace for some stimulation. I sit in a sort of cubicle facing a blank wall every day for 8 hours a day. Should be against the Geneva convention. ...