Simple, Carefree Casual Sex? As If.
Casual sex isn't as mindless as it seems, with people actually looking for love, and influenced by brain chemistry and genes.
Remember when you were unattached and fancy free? It may never have happened. If you envy your single friends for all of the no-strings, fun sex they’re having, don’t bother. It’s not all as mindlessly meaningless as it seems, according to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD.
Fisher explains how there’s enough dopamine triggered by sexual activity to actually make a person fall in love with their partner. And, she points out, with an orgasm comes a rush of oxytocin and vasaprezin, brain chemicals associated with deep emotional attachment. So people just happen to fall in love from casual sex?
Maybe not. The data on why hookups happen is intriguing. Fisher cites a study done by Fisher’s colleague Justin Garcia in which a surprisingly large percentage of male and female respondents — about half of them — report that they’d participated in one-night stands with hopes of waking up in a long-term relationship, and many actually did.
Garcia’s subsequent studies have found much the same, though the gender percentages shift from study to study, mostly with higher percentages of women looking for a permanent partner. Regardless, lots of people in seemingly mindless hookups are actually looking for more, at least unconsciously.
Also interesting is another study of Garcia’s that suggests there may be a genetic reason some people are more inclined toward promiscuity (and infidelity). Men and women in the study who had a certain variation of DRD4, which is involved in dopamine sensitivity, reported a higher number of one-night stands.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.