The study, which is published in the November 7 issue of the , is one of the first to look at what happens in the brain when people make rapid-judgment decisions that carry real social consequences, the researchers say."Psychologists have known for some time that people can often make very rapid judgments about others based on limited information, such as appearance," says John O'Doherty, professor of psychology and one of the paper's coauthors."However, very little has been known about how this might work in real social interactions with real consequences—such as when making decisions about whether to date someone or not.How they make those decisions, however, is not well understood.
Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in speed dating, during which people decide on someone's romantic potential in just a few seconds.
Not surprisingly, the students were pretty adept at knowing which people they would be interested in pursuing just by looking at their picture.
But when the researchers matched up the brain scans with the real-life dating decisions, they found that a certain region of the prefrontal cortex was almost always activated when participants had an immediate attraction to a person.
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