Well, when the pupil widens, it's called
pupil dilation. I don't think there's a
specific term for pupil dilation that happens due
to attraction. For reasons deep in our
evolutionary past, romantic or sexual attraction
seems to activate the sympathetic nervous system
(also known as the "fight or flight" response).
Other features of this response are "butterflies"
in the stomach, sweating, blood rushing to the
face, shaking hands, and dry mouth. So
unexpectedly running into the object of your
affection (if you're still in the "major crush"
phase) can make your body respond in the same way
it does if you unexpectedly run into a mountain
lion. In the physical sense that is, if you're
actually afraid of the person you're attracted to,
According to a study I saw on TV, most people
are not consciously aware of another person's
pupil size unless they're trained to look for it.
But people seem to notice it unconsciously and
find it attractive. Any idea how this test
could be done? Thanks for asking.
Great question! No one knows for sure the exact
"chemistry" behind this, but feelings of
"pleasure" or "desire" are coincident with
measurable changes in small peptide hormones and
neurochemicals that are released quickly
into the bloodstream. The phenomenon of pupil
dilation is intriguing because some of these small
peptide hormones can trigger the same dilation
response as light (actually, the light gets
converted to chemical messengers in the cell). So
in effect, the cells interpret the signal the same
way, regardless of the stimulus (light or the
hormone). See if you can dive into some reading
and make a list of the many peptide (and other)
hormones -- I bet you already have heard about
endorphins ("runners high") and serotonin!
Click Here to return to the search form.