A Florida State University study shows what we all thought was true but didn’t want to believe — good-looking people catch and keep our attention.
To quote a press release on the study:
“Whether we are seeking a mate or sizing up a potential rival, good-looking people capture our attention nearly instantaneously and render us temporarily helpless to turn our eyes away from them.”
Psychology professor Jon Maner compared the attraction to “magnetism” at the visual level. In technical terms, he calls it “attention adhesion.” He showed study participants pictures and then precisely judged reaction time for them to concentrate on something else.
Maner’s findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
In three experiments, Maner and colleagues found that heterosexual men and women “fixated on highly attractive people within the first half of a second of seeing them.”
“Single folks ogled the opposite sex, of course, but those in committed relationships also checked people out, with one major difference: They were more interested in beautiful people of the same sex,” according to the release. “If we’re interested in finding a mate, our attention gets quickly and automatically stuck on attractive members of the opposite sex,” Maner said. “If we’re jealous and worried about our partner cheating on us, attention gets quickly and automatically stuck on attractive people of our own sex because they are our competitors.”
The first study had 120 participants, while the second and third had 160 and 162, respectively.
Now men have an excuse when a pretty girl walks by — we couldn’t help but look.