Psychology and ELT – Arousal
You are a man. One day you find yourself crossing a bridge. You are stopped by an attractive woman. She smiles at you and asks you to fill in a short questionnaire. And then at the end, she offers to explain her study to you – only as she doesn’t have time at present, she actually gives you her telephone number! Q: Do you call her later? You might think that the answer has to do with how attractive the woman is, so you might be surprised to hear it has more to do with the bridge!
This is one of the most famous experiments in the field of Social Psychology. The idea is this: the physiological effects of a number of emotions are actually very similar – they trigger a heightened state of arousal. Our bodies get ready for action, but what kind of action? Fighting? Fleeing? Flirting? We assume that we know, because we assume it was this knowledge that led to the arousal in the first place (‘Ooops! A lion! I’d better start feeling afraid!’). Yet Psychologists argue that emotions are generated in the part of the brain which is beyond our consciousness (the ‘Adaptive Unconscious’). So what happens instead is that we feel this arousal and (not being aware of what has caused it) we look around trying to detect the source (‘I feel aroused – Why? Ooops! A lion – it must be that I am afraid!’).
[Original study: Dutton, D. G. and Aron, A. P. (1974). “Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, pp. 510–517.]
[NB: I do not own the copyright to this video clip. I have uploaded it here for educational purposes].
#Psychology #ELT #Arousal