How does it affect the body? The general perception is; heart palpitation, unexplained sweating, clenching of the fist and teeth, change in eye movements and face expressions and a numbed thought process. These effects are observed by all of us when we sense a dangerous stimuli. It is one of the negative emotions and is described as the survival mechanism used by the body when it perceives threat. When the mind senses dangerous stimuli, the negative feeling of fear is provoked in the mind. The feeling you experience when someone screams loudly in your ears or when exams approach is altogether different from the above symptoms! You would definitely experience negativity, that will show some effects on the body. Also, I would like to mention, there is a difference between fear and phobia, as the latter is excessive and unrealistic fear of something.
The facial expression of fear is often the first sign of the emotion we notice in others. How would you draw a scared face? Wide eyes, raised eyebrows and a mouth pulled back toward the ears are probably on your list. And for good reason. These are the characteristic features of a “fear face.” Experts believe we mainly make this face and other emotional expressions to communicate what we’re feeling—sometimes to recruit the help of others, sometimes to warn them of danger. Some emotions, such as fear, joy, sadness and anger, may be primary, making them easier to read. Others maybe more complex blends of several emotions. For example, experts who study facial expressions consider smugness to be a mix of contempt and enjoyment. Some scientists believe the emotional faces we make are universal and that we’re born with the capacity to make them. Researchers, such as Dr. Paul Ekman of the University of California, San Francisco, have studied the meaning behind emotional faces in populations around the world. They’ve reported significant similarities across cultures. Still, some experts argue that we learn to make facial expressions by mimicking others.
The Science of Love
- There are three phases to falling in love and different hormones are involved at each stage.
- Events occurring in the brain when we are in love have similarities with mental illness.
- When we are attracted to somebody, it could be because subconsciously we like their genes.
- Smell could be as important as looks when it comes to the fanciability factor. We like the look and smell of people who are most like our parents.
- Science can help determine whether a relationship will last.
When it comes to love it seems we are at the mercy of our biochemistry. One of the best known researchers in this area is Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey. She has proposed that we fall in love in three stages. Each involving a different set of chemicals.
Three Stages of Falling in Love
Stage 1: Lust
Lust is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. Testosterone is not confined only to men. It has also been shown to play a major role in the sex drive of women. These hormones as Helen Fisher says "get you out looking for anything".
Stage 2: Attraction
This is the truly love-struck phase. When people fall in love they can think of nothing else. They might even lose their appetite and need less sleep, preferring to spend hours at a time daydreaming about their new lover.
In the attraction stage, a group of neuro-transmitters called 'monoamines' play an important role:
- Dopamine - Also activated by cocaine and nicotine.
- Norepinephrine - Otherwise known as adrenalin. Starts us sweating and gets the heart racing.
- Serotonin - One of love's most important chemicals and one that may actually send us temporarily insane.
Stage 3: Attachment
This is what takes over after the attraction stage, if a relationship is going to last. People couldn't possibly stay in the attraction stage forever, otherwise they'd never get any work done!
Attachment is a longer lasting commitment and is the bond that keeps couples together when they go on to have children. Important in this stage are two hormones released by the nervous system, which are thought to play a role in social attachments:
- Oxytocin - This is released by the hypothalamus gland during child birth and also helps the breast express milk. It helps cement the strong bond between mother and child. It is also released by both sexes during orgasm and it is thought that it promotes bonding when adults are intimate. The theory goes that the more sex a couple has, the deeper their bond becomes
- Vasopressin - Another important chemical in the long-term commitment stage. It is an important controller of the kidney and its role in long-term relationships was discovered when scientists looked at the prairie vole.
Looking in their genes
When it comes to choosing a partner, are we at the mercy of our subconscious? Researchers studying the science of attraction draw on evolutionary theory to explain the way humans pick partners.
It is to our advantage to mate with somebody with the best possible genes. These will then be passed on to our children, ensuring that we have healthy kids, who will pass our own genes on for generations to come.
When we look at a potential mate, we are assessing whether we would like our children to have their genes.
Signs of attraction:
- Close contact
- Racing heart
- Hot and bothered
- Dilated pupils