New Trends in "Love Science"

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Tango highlights the 2005 research breakthroughs in Love Science.

Michael Flood, research fellow at the Australian Institute, studied 19,914 young adults ages 25 to 44, and presented his paper, “Mapping Loneliness in Australia,” to his colleagues there in February 2005.

Doses of oxytocin, a natural hormone involved with maternal bonding, can alter feelings of trust, a prerequisite for love. Ernst Fehr, a professor at the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich, conducted his trust study on 194 male college students. His findings were reported in the June 2005 issue of Nature. Further research may help scientists understand the biology behind social judgments and help treat people who have pathologically low levels of trust.

A woman is found to be most attractive when her estrogen level—and, therefore, fertility—is at its peak. Miriam Law Smith of the University of St. Andrews in Fife, U.K. photographed (without makeup) 59 women, aged 18-25, once a week for six weeks, noting their estrogen levels at the same time. Fourteen men and 15 women, also aged 18 to 25, rated the photos for attractiveness, health and femininity. The group also rated two composite face images: one of the 10 women with the lowest peak-estrogen levels; the other of the 10 women with the highest levels. The study found a “very strong and direct” correlation between each woman’s estrogen level and how attractive they were found to be, and that the high-estrogen composite was more attractive. A further study by Law Smith's group, however, found that makeup erased the correlation between perceived attraction and estrogen levels. NewScientist.com first reported on Smith’s findings in November 2005.

Mammalian brains, when presented with a choice between survival andScience Books mating, will choose the former over the latter. The researchers made headway into understanding the circuitry of behavioral decision-making by studying mice that were simultaneously confronted with a threat and an opportunity to reproduce.

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