Good News, Romantics: Love At First Sight Is Real, Study Says

If you’re a hopeless romantic, you probably believe in love at first sight. You’ve probably even experienced it before, that stomach-flipping feeling you get the minute you see someone and know immediately that you’re going to fall head over heels for them. While there are plenty of naysayers when it comes to this phenomenon, scientists have discovered that love at first sight does actually exist. Feel vindicated?

The study, performed by NYU psychology professor Denis Pelli and doctoral student Aenne Brielmann and published in Current Biology, centered on aesthetics. In particular, they wanted to determine what constitutes “beauty” and how it can be measured. While their findings aren’t altogether surprising—it makes sense that we’d gravitate towards things that catch our eye—what’s fascinating is knowing that it takes roughly one second for our brains to register something as beautiful/attractive. Not only that, but seeing something beautiful lights up the same pleasure-receptive areas of the brain as sugar.

While the study was unable to conclusively determine what makes something innately beautiful (which makes sense given how subjective beauty is), they did find one defining characteristic: viewing something beautiful causes a feeling of “intense pleasure.”

As Pelli told The Daily Mail, “Beauty is famously subjective and supposed to be intractable by science – but some of its key properties follow simple rules. Philosophers have long supposed the feeling of beauty is a special kind of pleasure. Yet, our analysis of research in the field shows the feeling of beauty may merely be a very intense pleasure—not otherwise special.”

While the study isn’t necessarily saying that you’re going to find your personal Prince Charming just by looking across a crowded room, it does validate the feeling many of us experience when we do see someone who stands out almost immediately. That feeling of attraction, lust, almost obsessive need to be close to them is the same thing we often feel when looking at something beautiful, be it a diamond ring, a great pair of heels, or a large cheese pizza. Hey, it’s science.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill