The wrong attribution of excitement and the "bridge of love"

The wrong attribution of excitement and the "bridge of love"

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Surely, if you feel that you have been in love before, you can describe certain changes that you noticed at that time: nerves before seeing that person, butterflies in the stomach, pulse acceleration ... but was it really love?


  • 1 What is the “bridge of love” experiment?
  • 2 Why do we confuse being excited to be in love?
  • 3 How to detect if it's happening to you

What is the “bridge of love” experiment?

To better illustrate what we are trying to explain to you, we will go back to the experiment conducted in 1974 by Canadian psychologists Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron, through the University of British Columbia.

Said experiment consisted of neither more nor less than interview a group of men in the middle of a wobbly bridge In a natural park in Vancouver. There was another group of men who would also be interviewed, but on a solid and stable bridge.

The person in charge of carrying out such interviews would be an attractive woman, who in turn showed each man the photograph of another woman smiling. At that point, all men were asked to try to explain the story that could be behind that photo.

As a climax and after finishing, they were given the telephone number of the interviewer, in case they wanted to call her to ask any questions about the peculiar interview. In addition, this experiment was repeated but this time the interviewer was a man.

The result? Many more men who had conducted the interview in the middle of the wobbly and unstable bridge called the interviewer, the majority being in front of those who had crossed the other bridge safely. Also, almost no man called when they were interviewed by the man instead of the woman.

Thanks to this experiment we can warn that the sense of danger, stress and excitement I can give rise to a certain feeling of attraction to the woman interviewer. In other words, these men had confused the excitement of their sympathetic nervous system with a romantic attraction.

In this way, this experiment popularly known as the bridge of love explains many of the theories defended about the matter in the 60s by the psychologist Stanley Schachter.

Schachter already argued that human emotions are not as clear and solid as many might think, since we first suffered a psychological excitement, to later catalog and define it according to our context.

However, as imperfect creatures, sometimes this process fails, leading to the erroneous attribution of arousal. Maybe you're not in love, but you've just got a little nervous!

Why do we confuse being excited to be in love?

Paradoxically, our body reacts at the physiological level in the same way when we are in love and when we feel agitation, anxiety or fear, although both feelings a priori seem to have little to do.

In this way, our sympathetic nervous system It is responsible for making us react when we are on alert, causes the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine, which curiously also affect the stomach. Does this remind you of the famous butterflies?

The impact on the rest of the body is immediate: agitation on breathing, acceleration of the pulse and our heart rate ... which, in the end, it is quite easy to get confused and believe that we are fully in love.

Although a certain sensation will be very temporary in time if it is not true love. After the initial excitement, your body will return to its normal state and with this you will return to a clearer context, which will help you rethink whether you were in love or not.

How to detect if it's happening to you

Maybe you are one of so many people who say they are very in love. Maybe you have ever experienced that you have fallen in love very quickly, but in the same way, you have fallen in love with the same ease.

Do you recognize yourself in this description? Do not panic. You may only feel a slight attraction moved by the excitement of the moment or you may have really found your better half. Who knows!

So, it is very possible that you too have been a victim of wrong attribution of arousal, at some time when you were not very clear about your emotions and your brain has failed to label them well. It's normal, it has happened to many more people than you think.

Especially in more unstable situations or environments and in which we feel more vulnerable, it is much easier to fall into the trap of brain chemistry. However, in most cases that crush will eventually be diluted in a few days.

Has it been longer and you feel that not only have you not forgotten, but that you like that person more? Only time will tell if it is love. Of course, if the relationship progresses and consolidates, do not be afraid to include different and exciting activities in your relationship!


Aron, Arthur. Dutton, Donald. Some evidence of increased sexual attraction in conditions of high anxiety. 1974. Journal of personality and social psychology