Adrienne Burke, Director of Public Outreach, The New York Academy of Sciences
I first met Helen Fisher in 2006, when I visited her Upper East Side apartment to interview her for a Science & the City podcast about the science of love. Helen, who is a professor at Rutgers University and author of five books, had recently become Chief Scientific Advisor to Chemstry.com, which was touting a scientific new method she had developed for determining romantic compatibility. Based on more than 30 years of biological anthropological research into the nature and chemistry of romantic love, Helen had devised an online questionnaire that would enable the matchmaking site to take a scientific approach to pairing up its romance-seeking customers. Answers to an odd variety of questions—such as, Which in a series of doodles is most similar to your own? Or, How does the length of your index finger compare to your ring finger?—would give Chemistry.com a clue about the respondent’s levels of the four hormones that Fisher says are the keys to successful relationships.
Four years later, Helen was one of the first people to come to mind when I began recruiting women doing fascinating research to speak in a Girls Night Out series. At the New York Academy of Sciences on Tuesday night, more than 300 people crowded into the 40th floor conference center for the first event in our series to hear Helen explain the science behind her personality test and her research into how brain chemistry influences the success of our romantic attachments and our choices of partners. Some of her research is based on studies in which she observed the brains of people in love, or recently rejected in love, though functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Check out the video to learn which hormones are best in similar doses and which make opposites attract, and to find out what Helen thinks about humans’ tendency toward monogamy, and why love is like cocaine to the brain. She shares information that might help you to find love if you’re looking for it, or to better understand the partner you already have.