Friday, July 15, 2011

The Pink Lens Effect

When we first meet someone in whom we have romantic interest, it seems as if they are perfect, and can do no wrong. They mesmerize us; capturing our attention and hearts.

It's a biological fact that new couples often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in the smallest details of this novel relationship, according to world renowned anthropologist, Helen Fisher, who has studied and conducted brain scans of newly formed couples.

New couples are in fact happier because they idealize each other, and what life can be like together. Relationship experts say that some idealization may be crucial to building a longer-term relationship.

In a 1996 experiment, psychologists at the State University of New York at Buffalo followed a group of 121 dating couples. Every few months, the couples answered questionnaires designed to determine how much they idealized their partner (which can last about 18 months in new relationships), and how well the pair was doing.

The researchers found that the couples who were closest one year later were those who idealized each other the most. The idealizing seemed to help carry these couples through the inevitable rough spots.

Psychologists have demonstrated in several studies that newly smitten lovers often exalt their relationships (i.e. believe that it's better than everyone else's), magnify the other's virtues and explain away their flaws. This behavior is called the "pink lens effect," and it is often sharply at odds with the perceptions of friends and family, psychologists say.

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