Love at first sight – does it really happen?

Love at first sight is often simply fiction and romantic poetry. Yet it’s something many of us have either experienced or at least thought we have.

Many lovers will tell us how they were hit by Cupid’s arrow the moment they laid eyes on each other, there are just as many people who scoff at the idea.

A report by science correspondent James Randerson, in the British publication The Guardian, sheds some light on the perplexing matter with research in 2007 pouring cold water on the idea…love at first sight, say the researchers, “it’s all to do with sex and ego. “It would appear to be some sort of egotistical thing. People are drawn towards others who are attracted to them. It is really an absolute basic effect that we are all, at some degree at least, mindful of – which is that if you try smiling at someone and you sustain eye contact, it makes you more appealing to them”.

Ben Jones of the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen is quoted as saying in the article. “It’s really a very basic effect that we are all, at some level at least, aware of – which is that if you smile at people and you maintain eye contact, it makes you more attractive. “Social signals about how attracted someone else is to you actually seem to be quite important,” he added. “You are attracted to people who are attracted to you, and that shows attractiveness is not just about physical beauty.”

Jones and his team discovered that the most important cue that people are attracted to each other is the direct gaze. They discovered this by putting together sets of images of women and men. In some images, the men or women looked “disgusted”, in others, they were smiling and happy. The images were paired up and in each case they were identical – except for one crucial factor. In one image, the person was looking directly at the camera, in the other, away from the lens. Volunteers were then asked to rate the attractiveness level of the pair of almost identical images.

Says Jones: “What we found at the most basic level is that people like faces with direct gaze more than they like the same faces with averted gaze. In other words, people find it more attractive when they are being looked at.”

But for almost every scientific study in the field of romance, there’s another study to dispute it.

An article on describes research on fruit flies – which, we’re assured,may have ramifacations for humans, scientists determined that females are biologically built to sense which men are more genetically matched with them, and to produce more eggs after pairing with good matches than they do with not as highly compatible matches. The determinations indicate that females can in some way judge a possible mate upon first encounter and biologically react to advance the chances of making successful offspring .”

It seems love at first sight, which many of us put down to gut instinct that the person is right for us, is related to human psychology as well as biology… It’s about the birds, the bees…and the fruit flies.

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