So I tell my students, ‘Don’t have sex if you don’t want to fall in love
It’s a constellation of factors, Fisher told me. Romantic love is associated with elevated activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine and probably also another one, norepinepherine. And attachment is associated with the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. “It turns out,” she said, “that seminal fluid has all of these chemicals in it. ‘ ”
“If you ask someone to go to bed with you, and they reject you,” she says, “you don’t kill yourself. But if you’re rejected in love, you might kill yourself.”
For Chemistry’s matching system, Fisher translated her work with neurotransmitters and hormones into discrete personality types. “I’ve always been extremely impressed with Myers-Briggs,” she said, referring to the personality assessment tool that classifies people according to four pairs of traits: Introversion versus Extroversion, Sensing versus Intuition, Thinking versus Feeling, and Judging versus Perceiving. “They had me pinned to the wall when I took the test, and my sister, too. So when Chemistry approached me, I said to myself, ‘I’m an anthropologist who studies brain chemistry, what do I know about personality?’ ”
Turns out she knew quite a bit: Genes for the activity of dopamine are associated with motivation, curiosity, anxiety, and optimism. Genes for the metabolism of serotonin, another neurotransmitter, tend to modulate one’s degree of calm, stability, popularity, and religiosity. Testosterone is associated with being rational, analytical, exacting, independent, logical, rank-oriented, competitive, irreverent, and narcissistic. And the hormone estrogen is associated with being imaginative, creative, insightful, humane, sympathetic, agreeable, flexible, and verbal.
“So I had these four sheets of paper,” Fisher continued. “And I e the Builder. Dopamine, the Explorer. Testosterone, the Director. And estrogen-I wish I’d called it the Ambassador or Diplomat, but I called it the Negotiator.” Myers-Briggs, she says, “clearly knew the four types but didn’t know the chemicals behind them.”
The 146-item compatibility questionnaire on Chemistry correlates users’ responses with evidence of their levels of these various chemicals. One question, for instance, offers drawings of a hand, then asks:
Romantic love, Fisher maintains, is a basic mating drive-more powerful than the sex drive
Which one of the following images most closely resembles your left hand? Index finger slightly longer than ring finger Index finger about the same length as ring finger Index finger slightly shorter than ring finger Index finger significantly shorter than ring finger
The relevance of this question might baffle the average online dater accustomed to responding to platitudes like, “How would you describe your perfect first date?” But Fisher explains that elevated fetal testosterone determines the ratio of the second and fourth finger in a particular way as it simultaneously builds the male and female brain. So you can actually look at someone’s hand and get a fair idea of the extent to which they are likely to be a Director type (ring finger longer than the index finger) or a Negotiator type (index finger longer or the same size).
How often do you vividly imagine extreme life situations, such as being stranded on a desert island or winning the lottery? Almost never Sometimes Most of the time All the time
“Someone who answers ‘All the time’ is a definite Negotiator,” Fisher said. “High estrogen activity is associated with extreme imagination.”
While other sites gather data based on often unreliable self-reports (“How romantic do you consider yourself to be?”), many of the Chemistry questions are designed to translate visual interpretation into personality assessment, thus eliminating some of the unreliability. In one, the user is presented with a book’s jacket art. We see a woman in a sexy spaghetti-strapped dress gazing at a man several feet away in the background, where he leans on a stone railing. The sky is blue, and they’re overlooking an open vista. “What is the best title for this book?” the questionnaire asks, chatib ervaringen and the choices are as follows: