National Porcineographic: a Portrait of America as a Young Hog
A limited-edition map celebrated the coincidence of a patriotic occation with a pig-centric one.
Nothing remains of Ridge Hill Farm, once an 800-acre estate in Needham, Massachusetts. The only reminder is a street name in neighbouring Wellesley. Yet once it was the Xanadu of sewing-machine magnate W.E. Baker. And one fine summer day in July 1875, Ridge Hill Farms hosted one of the grandest parties the area is ever likely to see.
Massachusetts governor William J. Gaston and Boston mayor Samuel C. Cobb were among the many dignitaries, foreign and domestic, attending Baker’s fête champêtre, which served a double purpose: it commemorated the centennial of the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought nearby; and it was the Corner-Stone Party for a 'Sanitary Piggery', one that Baker believed would inaugurate a filth-free future for the entire hog-rearing industry. As the patriotic coincided with the porcine, each of the 2.500 guests received a copy of this peculiar map of the United States as a ‘good cheer souvenir’ of the event.
The map’s rather long-winded full title is: THIS PORCINEOGRAPH is copied from the Census Surveys of 1870, adding only 3 feet of territory (?) resting on Cuba, Mexico and Sandwich Islands, and the Hydro-Cephalus from Canada. Congressional Legislation is required to PERFECT this GEHOGRAPHY.
Produced by the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company of Boston, this must be the world’s finest - and possibly only - example of sustained porcineography (1).
The familiar shape of America’s 48 contiguous states is shadowed by the silhouette of a trotting porker. The bristles on its back peek out over the long, straight border with Canada. Maine figures as its eastbound snout, its right eye is placed between Lakes Erie and Ontario to coincide with the Niagara Falls & Cataract (2). A giant pig’s ear covers much of Michigan and Wisconsin, in imitation of the Great Lakes.
Two legs of the continent-sized beast are coterminous with actual geographic features: its right front leg, raised, is the Florida peninsula, its right back leg, touching putative ground, is Baja California, the Mexican peninsula. An imaginary left back leg is reaching across the Pacific to step on the islands of Hawaii, or, as they were then also commonly referred to, the Sandwich Islands (bacon sandwiches, by the look of these). Its imaginary front left companion rests on a sausage-shaped Cuba (3). The state of Washington has sprouted a bristly, curly tail wrapped around Alasqueue.
The map itself is surrounded by a herd of pigs. Some are sitting in mock-allegorical poses atop it, copying the personifications of continents or countries on other maps. The main trio is labelled, left to right, Hog & Ham & Pork. Hog is holding a plate of shrimp and what appears to be a palm tree. Ham is emblazoned with a patriotic slogan (4) and holding an eagle’s nest containing a young chick and some yet to be hatched eggs. Pork is preparing a bean-based condiment by pouring brain sauce into it.
Other swine are running right around the map, each accompanied by the name, coat of arms and pork-based specialty of each American state (5). That list reads like a menu of lost regional dishes - some perhaps mercifully so. Included are such colourful recipes as:
Two small vignettes, at each of the bottom corners of the map, demonstrate the intertwined histories of government and pig-rearing in America (6). A tiny inscription shadowing the curl of the continental pig’s tail refers back to the man who commissioned this lithograph: Entered according to act of Congress by W.E. Baker 1876.
William Emerson Baker (1828-1888) may now be largely forgotten, he was something of a 19th-century Bill Gates. Baker started life as a tailor in Boston, and teamed up with sartorial colleague William Grover to found the hugely successful Grover & Baker Sewing Machine Company. Sewing machines were one of the mid-19th century’s hottest apps. The company’s fabulous success allowed Baker to retire at 40, a very wealthy man indeed.
At that time and place, wealth carried with it the moral duty (or social obligation) of philanthropy. Boston was New England’s focal point (7) for many of the era’s grand causes, be they abolitionism, suffragism or temperance (8). Baker’s do-goodery had a wide variety of outlets, including support for religious tolerance, for post-Civil War reconciliation between North and South, for the Boston Aquarium and for the fledgling Massachusetts Institute of Technology (founded in 1861). But the main thrust of his post-retirement work was in the cause of Pure Food.
Baker subscribed to the Pure Food movement’s view that unsanitary food production was the cause of much disease, and that the latter could be greatly reduced by the reform of the former. Hence his missionary work for what he called Hygienic Farming and Sanitary Cookery: “The prevention of disease among our general citizens, as well as in the army corps, is of more consequence than attention for its cure by the Medical Department.”
As one of its wealthiest patrons, Baker completely identified himself with the Pure Food cause. He turned his summer estate into a crowd-pulling amusement park with over 100 attractions. It was dubbed a ‘Fairyland of the Beautiful and Bizarre’, but Baker’s intention was as much to instruct as to amuse. The Crystal Cave (featuring Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves), the pleasure lake called Elm Tree Pond, the Norino Tower, the Floral Art Gardens, the Museum of Industry - they were all there to guide the visitors towards a more food-hygienic future.
Especially so the many saloons, restaurants and hotels dotting the estate. The guests of the 225-room, luxury Wellesley Hotel and the hiking-oriented Trephis Home Hotel were catered for by cooks graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Cookery, one of several Pure Food institutes grouped together in the estate’s Mount Charity area. Another one was the Trepho-Phagian Institute (9), a charity providing sanitary cooking for the “invalid poor” (the hygienic quality of the food specifically aimed, one imagines, at making them less ‘invalid’).
One of Baker’s additions to the research side of Ridge Hill Farms was the aforementioned Sanitary Piggery. Baker believed that pigs were not to blame for the filth they were commonly raised in, but that this filth was the cause of much disease: "The hog is naturally more cleanly in its habits than many of those who say he isn’t (…) The flesh of those swine fed on city garbage is liable to be unfit for market, as this garbage is often fermented and sour. And thus the City of Boston, by the disposition of its garbage, directly aids... in filling our hospital wards with patients diseased from eating unwholesome pork."
Baker’s Sanitary Piggery involved a clean environment and wholesome food for its porcine residents - it was even rumoured they had individual beds, and slept under silk sheets. That may have been hyperbole, but it underscores Baker’s belief that public health depended greatly on sanitary food production.
Baker’s ambitions exceeded his Sanitary Piggery. He wanted to establish an entire Hygienic Village, to be called Hygeria. In 1881, he petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for tax exemption, claiming that his work would benefit public health by preventing medical expenditure, thus saving the state considerable amounts of money. Hygeria would "induce the people of [Massachusetts] to practice such sanitary economies and household reforms as shall tend to diminish crime and disease and improve the vigour of the race."
The town of Needham opposed Baker’s secessionist plans, and despite his threats to establish Hygeria in another part of the country, this refusal - not to mention Baker’s untimely death, in 1888 - doomed the project. Baker’s widow sold Ridge Hill Farms, which suffered from fire, neglect and lack of funds and was eventually sold for residential development. This map is among the few tangible relics of Baker’s Pure Food crusade.
Curiously, the area around Needham was the test site for other Pure Food experiments, such as ‘hands-free’ milking at the Walker-Gordon Laboratories, where a mechanical ‘Roto-Lactor’ provided “milk untouched by hand from cow to consumer”, at first aimed at infants, later at the general consumer. Developed in the 1930s and displayed at the NY World’s Fair in 1939, the Roto-Lactor was in operation until 1960.
Many thanks to Daphna Atias for sending in this map, found in Recipe for a Culinary Archive, an illustrated essay by American food historian Jan Longone. The Library of Congress possesses a high-resolution downloadable version, as does the Big Map Blog, mentioned earlier on this blog, whence I got the version shown here.
(1) The cartographic representation of pigs, from the adjective for pigs and related animals, ‘porcine’. Other common and/or fun animal adjectives include: bovine (cows), ovine (sheep), asinine (donkeys), ursine (bears), feline (cats), galline (chickens), canine (dogs), corvine (crows), musteline (ferrets), vulpine (foxes), ranine (frogs), equine (horses), caprine (goats), pediculine (lice), and garruline (magpies). This blog treated one other example of pig-related cartography, although its non-figurative por(k)trayal of the map’s subjects may exclude it from the definition of porcineography (see #58).
(2) A clever play on the latter word’s double meaning: eye-disease, or large waterfall.
(3) The pig’s feet on Cuba, Baja and Hawaii account for the three added ‘feet’ of territory mentioned in the title. The claim on Cuba is justified by the (southern) US’s Spanish legacy, the extension towards Hawaii simply by America’s Pacific reach. The justification for the appropriation of Baja is, rather cryptically: Cast not thy (Mexican) pearls before swine least (sic) they tread them under their feet.
(4) Sic semper tyrannis: ‘Thus always to tyrants’. Attributed to Brutus, who supposedly said this when killing Caesar. Used by Americans rebelling against British rule. Adopted by Virginia as its state motto. Later also shouted by John WIlkes Booth when shooting Lincoln.
(5) Not all the entities shown here were states at this time; some were still territories, a few still had to acquire their final borders: the Dakotas were still Siamese twins, and Arizona and Wyoming were still to lose western bits of their territories to Nevada and Idaho, respectively.
(6) The left one reads: Litigation about the killing of two hogs found trespassing in a garden in Rhode Island in 1811, is said to have resulted in the election of the opposition candidate, Howell, to the United States Senate and the Declaration of War of 1812. The right one: Legislation concerning the litigation between the city crier, Capt. Kesyne, and the “widow” Sherman about a hog found astray in the streets of Boston, in 1636, resulted in the organization of the Massachusetts Senate.
(7) Not unlike Clapham was for London (see #499).
(8) A great temperance map, published earlier on this blog (see #258), was published in Boston in or around 1846.
(9) From the Greek words for ‘nourish’ and ‘eat’.
Strange Maps #511
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.
Minimoons<p>Scientists have confirmed just two prior minimoons. One was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_RH120" target="_blank">2006 RH120</a>, which orbited us from September 2006 to June 2007. The other was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_CD3" target="_blank">2020 CD3</a>, which got stuck in the 2015–2016 timeframe, and is believed to gotten away in May 2020.</p><p>2020 SO, the new kid on the block, is expected to arrive in October 2020 and pop out of orbit in May 2021.</p><div id="37962" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4c0fc8a2cba6536ea4cd960ebed3e6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307729521869611008" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture… https://t.co/F5utxRvN6Z</div> — Tony Dunn (@Tony Dunn)<a href="https://twitter.com/tony873004/statuses/1307729521869611008">1600621989.0</a></blockquote></div>
Identifying 2020 SO<p>The first clue 2020 SO isn't your ordinary asteroid is its exceptionally low velocity. It's traveling much more slowly that a typical asteroid — their <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank">average rate of travel</a> <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>is 18 kilometers (58,000 feet) per second. Even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rock" target="_blank">moon rocks</a> sent careening into Earth orbit by impacts on the lunar surface outpace pokey 2020 SO.</p><p>For another thing, 2020 SO has an orbital path very similar to Earth's, lasting about one Earth year. It's also just slightly less circular than our own orbit, from which it's barely tilted off-axis.</p><p>So, what is it? <a href="https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/" target="_blank">NASA estimates</a> that the object has dimensions very reminiscent of a discarded Centaur rocket stage from the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Surveyor 2 mission</a> that landed an unmanned craft on the moon. Back in the day, rocket stages were jettisoned as craft were aimed toward their desired position. This stuff, if released high enough, remains in space. It appears that this Centaur rocket, launched in September 1966, is now making its way back homeward, at least for a little bit.</p><p>When 2020 SO arrives at its closest point in December, the rocket is expected to be about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. Its next closest approach is much further: 220,000 kilometers, in February 2010.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzMDk3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1MTQ1MX0.HGknDwqp0GmeuczKY_AS7vrPG7KMFUc_XO95tNoI2xo/img.jpg?width=980" id="e5cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="85eb1f790d8c3ee5b261f7ba13eaa5e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Centaur rocket stage" />
Centaur rocket stage
What we may be able to learn<p>Earthly space programs being as young as they are, scientists would love to know what's happened to our rocket during a half century in space.</p><p>While 2020 SO won't get close enough to drop into our atmosphere, its slow progress has scientists hopeful that they'll still get some kind of a decent look at it.</p><p>Spectroscopy may be able to reveal what the rocket's surface is like now — has any of its paint survived, for example? Of course, being out in space, it's likely to have been hit by lots of dust and micrometeorites, so the current state of its surfaces is also of interest. Experts are curious to know how reflective the rocket is at this point, valuable information that can help planners of future long-term missions anticipate how well a craft out in space for extended periods will remain able to reflect sunlight.</p>
The U.S., China, and Russia are in a "vaccine race" that treats a global challenge like a winner-take-all game.
All for one (vaccine)<p>Launched this April, <a href="https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator" target="_blank">the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator</a> brought together a panoply of governments, scientists, businesses, and global health organizations with the goal of accelerating the development, production, and distribution of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine. The "vaccines pillar" of this initiative is <a href="https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/covax-explained" target="_blank">the COVAX Facility</a>.</p><p>COVAX is coordinated by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The program maintains a diverse portfolio of COVID-10 vaccines, monitoring each to identify promising candidates. It has also partnered with manufacturers to ease investment risks and serves as a purchasing pool for self-financing countries, while offering fundraising efforts to poorer ones.</p><p>"[G]overnments from every continent have chosen to work together, not only to secure vaccines for their own populations, but also to help ensure that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable everywhere," Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, <a href="https://www.gavi.org/news/media-room/boost-global-response-covid-19-economies-worldwide-formally-sign-covax-facility" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "With the commitments we're announcing today for the COVAX Facility, as well as the historic partnership we are forging with industry, we now stand a far better chance of ending the acute phase of this pandemic once safe, effective vaccines become available."</p><p><a href="https://www.vox.com/21448719/covid-19-vaccine-covax-who-gavi-cepi" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In an interview with Vox</a>, Berkley noted that the ACT Accelerator is the largest global collaboration since the Paris Climate Agreement. He added, "This type of solidarity is critical because otherwise what you're going to end up with is just a constant reintroduction of infections and the inability to go back to normal."</p><p>As of Monday, 64 higher-income countries and 92 low- and middle-income countries—representing nearly two-thirds of the world's population—<a href="https://www.gavi.org/news/media-room/boost-global-response-covid-19-economies-worldwide-formally-sign-covax-facility" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have signed commitments to COVAX</a>. Thirty-eight more are expected to sign soon.</p><p>COVAX's goal is to have 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. Experts estimate this amount will cover high-risk and vulnerable people, as well as healthcare workers, worldwide. Participating nations must cover those populations before administering vaccines according to national priorities. As part of the agreement, countries agree to support equal access to the vaccine once it becomes available, a move aimed at preventing hoarding and price gouging. </p><p>Currently, CEPI is supporting nine candidate vaccines, of which eight are in clinical trials.</p>
Why has the U.S. backed out?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7167e0bf1593a7cb29c1a116041116e3"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LUAsKbH7yeY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The United States is gambling that its bilateral deals with various pharmaceutical companies will win the "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/coronavirus-vaccine-trump/2020/09/01/b44b42be-e965-11ea-bf44-0d31c85838a5_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vaccine race</a>." This U.S.-only initiative, named (sigh) <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/06/16/fact-sheet-explaining-operation-warp-speed.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Warp Speed</a>, has already spent <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/14/the-us-has-already-invested-billions-on-potential-coronavirus-vaccines-heres-where-the-deals-stand.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">approximately $10 billion</a> and is pushing to deliver 300 million doses by January 2021. Many experts worry this speedy push through the regulatory path could result in <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/here-s-how-us-could-release-covid-19-vaccine-election-and-why-scares-some" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">premature and dangerous approvals</a>.</p><p>China and Russia have likewise bet on their own high-priced ponies. Russia is touting <a href="https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/09/russia-offers-its-untested-covid-19-vaccine-for-free-to-un-officials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an unvetted vaccine</a> nicknamed (double sigh) "Sputnik V." This vaccine has only concluded <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30402-1/fulltext" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">phase 1 and 2 trials</a> with a small number of participants, yet Russia claims to have already received international requests. Meanwhile, China has administered <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-vaccines-foc/in-coronavirus-vaccine-race-china-inoculates-thousands-before-trials-are-completed-idUSKBN26705Q" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tens of thousands of doses of a vaccine</a> before completing phase 3 clinical trials. </p><p>An additional barrier to the United States' participation: COVAX is a WHO-led initiative. Earlier this year, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/05/29/865685798/president-trump-announces-that-u-s-will-leave-who" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">President Donald Trump admonished the WHO as a corrupt organization</a> and claimed it assisted China in covering up the coronavirus outbreak and its severity. Though he presented no evidence for the accusation, Trump has used it as the basis for <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/21/64-high-income-nations-join-effort-to-expand-global-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-but-u-s-and-china-do-not/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">his threat to cut ties with</a>, and funding for, the agency.</p><p>"The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China," said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-who/white-house-slams-who-over-criticism-of-push-for-covid-19-vaccine-idUSKBN25S62T" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in a statement</a>.</p><p>He added, "This president will spare no expense to ensure that any new vaccine maintains our own FDA's gold standard for safety and efficacy, is thoroughly tested, and saves lives."</p><p>By shirking COVAX, these countries hope to gain peerless access to a vaccine. Each could secure large numbers of doses for its citizens while also reaping the political boons to follow. In the United States, President Trump has pinned his re-election bid on a timely vaccine, while Chinese officials seem posed to use a vaccine <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/business/china-vaccine-diplomacy.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">to repair diplomatic ties</a>. </p><p>But the loss of such rich economies will prove a blow to COVAX and the ACT Accelerator. Vaccines are notoriously expensive and risky to develop; the costs to manufacture doses at scale will be immense. <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/08/1070162" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus</a> stated the ACT Accelerator would cost roughly $30 billion, and the final bill for the tools to combat novel coronavirus would be at least $100 billion. But that's a pittance compared to the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-imf/imf-says-10-trillion-spent-to-combat-pandemic-far-more-needed-idUSKBN23I27P" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$10 trillion already spent on the pandemic</a> so far.</p><p>"COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that demands an unprecedented global response," <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/21-09-2020-boost-for-global-response-to-covid-19-as-economies-worldwide-formally-sign-up-to-covax-facility" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tedros said</a>. "Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery. Working together through the COVAX Facility is not charity, it's in every country's own best interests to control the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery."</p>
The winner won't necessarily take all<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNzY2My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjExMzA1M30.2kF2U_8veNWxmaxOnSned_WTQMRtscbB5dmT5efJHsc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="55cd7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c56717cda300a40edc23795c8ee23c2f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="SARS-CoV-2 vaccine" />
Positive, romantic thoughts could produce positive, romantic outcomes while dating.
- Fear of rejection, self-doubt, and anxiety are just some of the obstacles humans need to overcome to make a meaningful, romantic connection with another person.
- According to a 2020 project by a group of psychologists at the University of Rochester (and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), humans see possible romantic partners as a lot more attractive if they go into the interaction with a "sexy mindset."
- Across three separate studies, this team discovered that this sexual activation helps people initiate relationships by inducing them to project their desires onto prospective partners.
Being in a frisky mood improves your chances with potential romantic partners<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNzk0OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Mjc3MDA5NH0.lwJquRq9_gTYX5c_2sRzCBfkyWldjMqCJig_kGCL1uA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C6%2C0%2C98&height=700" id="f2719" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a29ad6b50ff3868c867fd2d0a64b8aa" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man and woman on date woman" />
The right mood could land you the right date, according to a new study.
Credit: BlueSkyImage on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uor-ffm092320.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to a 2020 study</a> by a group of psychologists at the University of Rochester (and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), humans see possible romantic partners as a lot more attractive if they go into the interaction with a "sexy mindset."</p><p><a href="https://www.sas.rochester.edu/psy/people/faculty/reis_harry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Harry Reis</a>, professor of psychology and the Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at Rochester, and <a href="https://www.idc.ac.il/en/pages/faculty.aspx?username=birnbag" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gurit Birnbaum</a>, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya) have dedicated decades of their lives to studying the intricate dynamics of sexual attraction and human sexual behavior. </p><p>In <a href="https://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/relationships-uncertainty-are-you-really-in-to-me-323512/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a previous study,</a> the pair discovered that when people feel greater certainty about a romantic partner's interest, they put more effort into seeing that person again. Additionally, this study found people will rate the possible partner as more "sexually attractive" if they knew the person was interested in seeing them again.</p><p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uor-ffm092320.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">For this project</a>, Reis and Birnbaum, along with their team, examined what would happen if a person's sexual system is activated by exposing them to brief sexual cues that induced a thought process that included the potential for sex or heightened attraction. </p><p>Across three separate studies, the team discovered that this sexual activation helps people initiate relationships by inducing them to project their desires onto prospective partners. </p><p><strong>Study one: Immediacy</strong></p><p>In the first study, 112 heterosexual participants (between the ages of 20-32) who were not in a romantic relationship were randomly paired with an unacquainted participant of the opposite sex. Participants introduced themselves to each other (speaking about their hobbies, positive traits, career plans, etc.), all while being recorded. </p><p>The team then coded the recorded interactions and searched for nonverbal expressions of immediacy (such as close proximity, frequent eye contact, smiles, etc.) that could indicate interest in starting a romantic relationship. </p><p>In the study, the team determined that the participants exposed to a sexual stimulus before the meeting (versus those exposed to a neutral stimulus) exhibited more immediacy behaviors towards their potential partners and also perceived the partners as more attractive and/or more interested in them. </p><p><strong>Study two: Interest</strong></p><p>In the second study, 150 heterosexual participants (between the ages of 19-30) who were not in a romantic relationship served as a control for the potential partner's attractiveness and reactions. All participants in study two watched the same pre-recorded video introduction of a potential partner of the opposite sex. They then introduced themselves to the partner while being filmed themselves. </p><p>The researchers found that the activation of the sexual system led to participants viewing the potential partner as more attractive as well as more interested in them. </p><p><strong>Study three: How it all ties together</strong></p><p>In the third and final study, the team investigated whether a partner's romantic interest could explain why sexual activation impacts how we view other people's romantic interest in ourselves. </p><p>In this study, 120 single heterosexual participants (between the ages of 21-31) interacted online with another participant who was actually an attractive opposite-sex member of the research team. This was a casual "get-to-know-you" kind of interaction. The participants rated their romantic interest in the other person as well as that person's attractiveness and interest in them.</p><p>Again, the team found that sexual activation increased a person's romantic interest in the other person, which, in turn, predicted that the other person would then be more interested in a romantic partnership as well. </p><p><strong>The takeaway: Positive, romantic thoughts could produce positive, romantic outcomes. </strong></p><p>The basis of this multi-study theory is simple: Having active sexual thoughts arouses romantic interest in a prospective partner and often leads to an optimistic outlook on dating. </p><p>"Sexual feelings do more than just motivate us to seek out partners. It also leads us to project our feelings onto the other person," <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uor-ffm092320.php" target="_blank">said Reis to Eurekalert</a>. </p><p>Reis goes on to explain, "...the sexual feelings need not come from the other person; they can be aroused in any number of ways that have nothing to do with the other person."</p>
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