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article imageOp-Ed: Banal science — Love or lust is where you look?

By Paul Wallis     Jul 21, 2014 in Odd News
Chicago - In what may well be the behavioural science gimme of all time, scientists have stumbled on the information that whether a person looks at the face or body indicates love or lust. That was worth waiting 4 billion years to find out.
Science Daily explores yet another bold effort to define the obvious:
"Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers," noted lead author Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the UChicago High-Performance Electrical NeuroImaging Laboratory. Cacioppo co-authored the report, now published online in the journal Psychological Science, with colleagues from UChicago's Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, and the University of Geneva.
Previous research by Cacioppo has shown that different networks of brain regions are activated by love and sexual desire. In this study, the team performed two experiments to test visual patterns in an effort to assess two different emotional and cognitive states that are often difficult to disentangle from one another -- romantic love and sexual desire (lust).
Difficult? Difficult for whom? Lab rats? Aliens? People who’ve never experienced love or lust? Scientists with nothing better to do? For those wondering, the combination of both love and lust is traditional. It’s been traditional since the beginning of recorded history. See Herodotus and Ssuma Chien for details.
Apart from the fact that yet another human behaviour is now under the microscope, why do research of this type, in this way? What’s so hard to understand about this subject? This approach is bordering on vacuous, unless there’s some damn good reason for it.
Better still, this research was conducted by using university students to look at groups of photos of couples, and define quickly the looks of the people in the photo as sexual or romantic. Sounds accurate, doesn’t it?
I know the first people I’d ask about any kind of human behaviour would be smartphone-addled academic newbies, preferably those who never take their eyes off their phones when crossing roads. I would also assume that like all people, their observations were 100 percent accurate, every time. People misread others, too, on a regular basis.
For those who don’t remember when the world wasn’t obligated to dance around to psycho-politically correct behaviours, finding people attractive and/or lovable was pretty normal. Humans read faces and bodies — does that mean that they’re instantly in love or suddenly turned on? Wouldn’t bet on it.
Humans also read other people’s bodies for other reasons than love or lust — threats, for example, or body language.
In short — the guy foaming at the mouth with someone else’s arm hanging out of it may be visually analyzed for other reasons than forming a relationship.
For scientists — when two people distrust each other very much, particularly strangers, the eyes look for danger. When a person sees someone who they feel may bore them to death without warning or is unbelievably uninteresting, they look for that, too.
Now the really good news — this study is trying to identify “biomarkers” for behavioural studies.
A biomarker is defined (by that strange, unaccredited dictionary on Google search) as:
…a naturally occurring molecule, gene, or characteristic by which a particular pathological or physiological process, disease, etc. can be identified.
A classy way of defining human emotions and feelings, not very. Love or lust are seen as “pathological, diseases, etc.”?
Yet another generation of smug, insulated psych idiots who apparently consider the whole human race to be animals will be reading people’s minds, presumably as brilliantly as they do now.
What are they looking for, a cure for love? Or lust? Or just doing yet more invasive research into areas of human behaviour which are essentially private?
"An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians' daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy."
Of course — eye tracking a rapist or a dysfunctional couple will definitely solve problems that already exist. Diagnose what, the obvious? Sounds more like a postmortem diagnosis than a prognosis.
Anyway — what do you do when people don’t find other people attractive at all? Get another theory, maybe one that people can take or leave other people?
Look forward to more exciting excursions into analyzing everything human to death whether it needs it or not. It’s such fun to see the scientists interacting with humanity for a change.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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