Love is in the eyes of the beholder

By Ann Griswold • Published: June 12th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Common wisdom holds that being married doesn’t necessarily mean that beautiful stranger doesn’t catch your eye. But recent research suggests otherwise, finding that people in love are actually less likely to notice attractive members of the opposite sex.

A group of researchers representing Florida State University, the University of California and eHarmony Labs set out to determine why many of us remain committed to a single life partner, even in the face of temptation from attractive members of the opposite sex.

The scientists recruited more than one-hundred undergrads who were in committed relationships. Each person was asked to either write about a moment when they felt strong love for their partner or to write about a pleasant memory.

The participants then sat in front of a computer while an image of a person’s face flashed on the screen for a fraction of a second. The faces were classified as highly attractive men, highly attractive women, average-looking men and average-looking women. The subjects were then shown an image of a square or circle and asked to correctly identify the shape, part of an accepted test to track attention. Scientists recorded the amount of time it took for the subject to identify the shape after seeing the face.

People who wrote about love spent even less time mulling over attractive than average-looking faces, while people who wrote about a pleasant memory spent more time focusing on attractive faces rather than average-looking ones.

The study suggests that love… truly is blind.