The Real Reason Love Is In The Air--Finals!


If your circle of friends is anything like mine, you recently witnessed your News Feed filled with relationship news.  This couple is getting together, this couple hooked up, this person is on a date with that person...the list goes on.  I started to notice the increase talk of love amongst my college friends about two weeks ago.  Coincidentally, this spike in romance occurred around the time of the total lunar eclipse or blood moons.  However, when I continue to see hand holding and random hookups at the Spring Formal, something tells me that the astrological phenomenon was not to blame for this sudden heighten of libido.


Now the romantic in me wants to say that we can thank Spring for this warm fuzzy feeling inside.  The scientist in me, which is usually sitting in a quiet dark corner watching my romantic side shine, has decided to take hold.  She has found experimental evidence that, in fact Spring and the lunar eclipse have nothing to do with the increase in affection amongst my peers. It’s finals.

Wait, what?  The final project you have been putting off until this  week (#AmherstCollegeProblems) made you make out with that football player last night.  According to my science side, yes.  It’s called the Misattribution of Arousal. The scientific definition is that we misinterpret of arousal of fear for arousal of affection.  The process of misattributing our arousal is actually two steps.


Firstly, you must acknowledge the arousal. You notice that you suddenly feel warm, your heart rate is increasing and you suddenly feel the desire to be coddled.  Secondly, you must label the reasoning for feeling this way.  You glance upward and see a good-looking individual across the room.  You realize that you are flustered because you want to approach this person.  Here’s where things may get interesting.  Perhaps while at the function you made eye contact with your partner for your group project.  You both waved cautiously but subconsciously you recall that you hadn’t finished your part that you promised to send tomorrow.  Nervous, you start to feel lightheated, your heart rate increases and you look around for your best friend for consolation.  Instead you see cutie across the room, forget the awkward encounter but your body has yet to calm down.  Suddenly, you are approaching this person because you believe you have chemistry but in actuality it’s literal your chemistry class that’s exhilarating your heart rate.


There have been multiple experiments based on this phenomenon. Stanley Schachter and Jerome E. Singer in 1962 tested subjects by injecting (unknowingly to participants) with adrenaline, Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron  in 1974 put subjects on a shaky bridge, Meston and Frohlic in 2003 on put participants on a roller coaster, and Baumeister and Bushman in 2008 gave their participants caffeinated tea.  In most cases, the subjects who did not know that this adrenaline was surging through their body labeled their emotions wrongly.  In three out of four of these cases, the creators of the experiment used couples or an attractive person to test if people would label their emotions as romantic.  In these cases, they did.


Well that’s great science side, but we are Amherst students.  We all took intro Psych, we are above the norm.  We aren’t affected by these psychological mind games. Now it was my romantic side that piped up in agreement.  Have you ever heard of the superhero syndrome?  Perhaps a rebound?  When you get out of a bad breakup, we tend to cling to the first person who shows us some kindness.  We misdirect our need for companionship at a low moment for romantic interest in a new individual.


I’s okay.  Mind blown!


After reading this you may be thinking, “Aw crap, maybe I don’t like that person.” Or perhaps even worse, “Oh no, what if so-and-so doesn’t like me!”  Please don’t fret.   Misattribution of Arousal is  one of the ways that couples can stay together.  Why do you think we go on dates to amusement parks or watch action flicks?  We are creatures who enjoy danger and we enjoy getting that adrenaline rush with someone else.  It’s a plus if they are gorgeous, intelligent and fun to be around on a regular basis. Ask Amherst College’s own Professor Catherine A Sanderson who’s famous for her couple talks on campus. It’s actually point three on her five point list on how to have a successful relationship in college.  


However, this is also for those like me who isn’t interested in someone right now.  As one of my favorite Korean pop songs states, “Everyone but me is in love, singing spring songs. Flowers are blooming before my eyes. I want to hear something else. Not the story that will just sweep through: Not spring, not love, not cherry blossoms.” (봄 사랑 벚꽃 말고 feat IU) Please don’t fear.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  There’s nothing wrong with any of us.  We all attribute the feelings of the end of the semester in different ways.  Let’s just collectively blame finals and wish for the speedy occurrence of summer break!