People are more attracted to their romantic partners after playing with magnets, a new study has found.
The research is an example of a social priming effect.
The idea holds that when people are “primed” or prompted to think about a particular concept – such as physical magnetic attraction – it affects their cognition in surprising ways.
The magnets may make the metaphor of love as a physical force more prominent in people’s minds, leading them to report closer feelings with their partners, said Andrew Christy, a graduate student at Texas A&M University in the US.
Researchers asked 120 students aged 18 to 22 years who were either in relationships or had been in relationships within the last few months, to fill out questionnaires about their connection with their partners.
The students were told to take a “mental break” by playing with blocks, putting them together and taking them apart, ‘Live Science’ reported.
Some of the students were given magnetised blocks that attracted each other, while some had magnetised blocks that repelled each other, and others had blocks without magnets.
The participants who played with the magnetically attracting blocks reported greater attraction, satisfaction and commitment in their relationships or recent relationships compared with those students given the other two block types, Christy said.
“The nonmagnetic and the repel condition didn’t seem to differ from one another at all,” he said.
In their next experiment with 150 students, researchers included only blocks with magnets that attracted, and nonmagnetised blocks.
The people who played with the magnetised blocks again reported greater levels of attraction, satisfaction and commitment in their relationships than those who played with nonmagnetised blocks.
The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE.