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In the fields of sociology, behavioral psychology, and evolutionary psychology, with specific reference to intimate relationships, romantic relationships, or friendships, interpersonal chemistry is a reaction between two people or the spontaneous reaction of two people to each other, especially a mutual sense of attraction or understanding. In a colloquial sense, it is often intuited that people can have either good chemistry or bad chemistry together. Good chemistry is thought to be associated with or the result of favorable human bondings and associations. Other related terms are team chemistry, a phrase often used in sports, and business chemistry, as between two companies. When job-hunting, the greatest credentials in the world are not enough, i.e. according to the research of career expert Debra Feldman, "personality and interpersonal chemistry, that essential feeling of trust, plays a critical role in hiring decisions."
Throughout history, the idea of alchemy or chemistry between people, i.e. "interpersonal" chemistry, is usually made in reference to romance. Those in love, for example, are said to have found the perfect chemistry with another person. In recent years, however, analogies have branched off and developed in other fields such as business or consulting. In software consulting, project chemistry is a sought after quality. Certain people are often selectively added to project teams to serve as a catalyst for the group. From the famous 1987 book Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, for example, a person who functions as a "catalyst" in a project group is important because projects tend to always be in a state of flux; thus if someone has the skill-sets to energize a group, the project will be completed quicker and more efficiently. These people themselves are not necessarily the most productive, and would not necessarily be better on their own than someone else, but in a group setting they can keep the group moving. Catalysts, in chemistry, whether a person or a quantity of matter, tend to encourage or speed chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy barrier of the reaction. Someone who can help a project "gel" is worth two people who just do work. A related term introduced by DeMarco and Lister, is corporate entropy, in which they view energy waste as red tape and business team inefficiency as a form of entropy, i.e. energy lost to waste. This concept has caught on and is now common jargon in business schools.
In regards to new business startups, according to business consultant Marguerite Moore Callaway, from her 2006 book The Energetics of Business, for example, "in business, as with any intimate relationship that is genuinely satisfying, great chemistry is vital. To have an affinity for an idea, a strong match must exist between a business owner's built-in aptitude, personality, learned skills and the underlying business purpose." To succeed in business, according to Callaway, one must fall in love with its potential.
In Hollywood, casting directors are encouraged to find actors and actresses who have good screen couple chemistry. According Film professor Martha Nochimson, "star chemistry" is an energy issue in which the central dynamic in the movie evolves out of a spontaneous engagement that creates a free-standing energy vortex, in which audiences have room for a virtually infinite number of such experiences. The energy, or "wordless chemistry", of the onscreen couple, according to Nochimson, becomes at its most intense "a form of synergy between actors.” Historically, famous examples of couples with unmistakable on-screen chemistry include Maureen O'Sullivan/Johnny Weissmuller, Myrna Loy/William Powell, Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, and Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy.
Early historical references to alchemy or bonding between people were mostly analogies. In ancient Egypt, for example, Egyptologists have found fifty-five anonymous love poems, on papyri and vases, dating back to 1300 BC, which speak of psyches torn by uncertainty, hearts on fire, or how the "nets of love" can trap people. Similarly, in the 1022 poem The Ring of the Dove by Ibn-Hazm we find:
|“||The lover's soul is ever seeking for the other, striving after it, searching out, yearning to encounter it again, drawing it to itself it might be as a magnet draws the iron.||”|
Goethe's affinities (1809)Edit
- Main article: Elective Affinities
The first true application of the theories of chemistry, however, to the process of human life was that made by the famous German novelist, philosopher, and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his 1809 publication of Elective Affinities, a scientific treatise on the chemical origin of love. In this penetrating study of life, marriage, and passion Goethe extends the chemical term ‘elective affinities’ through storyline to human relationships, both intimate and political. With respect to courting relationships and marriage, according to Goethe, with specific reference to new loves and divorce, people are brought together uncontrollably just as a chemist brings chemical substances together; where by definition:
|“||We employ the term elective affinity, because it really does look as if one relationship was preferred to another and chosen instead of it.||”|
According to a review of Elective Affinities by Oxford University Press, Goethe conducts an experiment with the lives of people who are living badly. Charlotte and Eduard, aristocrats with little to occupy them, invite Ottilie and the Captain into their lives; against morality, good sense, and conscious volition all four are drawn into relationships as inexorably as if they were substances in a chemical equation.
Historically, elective affinity, or its modern synonym "chemical affinity", refers to the tendency for atoms, molecules, or chemical species to combine by chemical reaction. The name affinitas was first used in the sense of chemical relation by German philosopher Albertus Magnus in the year 1250. In this direction, various theories and postulates in regards to the underlying nature of chemical affinities have since intermittently been used to explain why and how chemical species react. Goethe, subsequently, by studying these works and others such as De attractionibus electivis by the Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman and by attending the weekly lectures of his lifelong friend the German chemist Johann Dobereiner, who served as a model for the Captain in the story, was able to present to the world a semi-biographical story in which passion, marriage, conflict, and free-will are all subject to the laws of chemistry and that in which the lives of human species are regulated no differently than are the lives of chemical species.
Through a, quite technical at times, metaphorical story line, Goethe speaks of the marriage tie and by analogy shows how strong marriage unions are similar in character to that by which the particles of quicksilver find a unity together though the process of chemical affinity. Goethe’s novella, in its time, was regarded as treatise on chemical origins of love. Humans in passionate relationships, according to Goethe, are analogous to reactive substances in a chemical equation.
Belgian chemist and Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine refers to Goethe's affinities in his famous 1984 book Order Out Of Chaos. Similarly, in the 1995 textbook Supramolecular Chemistry, by French chemist and Nobel Laureate Jean-Marie Lehn, one of the founders supramolecular chemistry, we find a Goethe-influenced anthropomorphic take on supramolecular chemistry referred to as a type of "molecular sociology":
|“||Non-covalent interactions define the inter-compound bond, the action and reaction, in brief, the behavior of the molecular individuals and populations: their social structure as an ensemble of individuals having its own organizations; their stability and their fragility; their tendency to associate or to isolate themselves; their selectivity, their elective affinities and class structure, their ability to recognize each other; their dynamics, fluidity or rigidity or arrangements and of castes, tensions, motions and reorientations; their mutual action and their transformations by each other.||”|
Stendhal's crystallization (1822)Edit
- Main article: crystallization (love)
In the 1822 classic On Love French writer Stendhal describes or compares the “birth of love”, in which the love object is crystallized in the mind in a manner similar to the chemical process of crystalization, and that this mental transformation is analogous to a trip to Rome. In the analogy, the city of Bologna represents indifference and Rome represents perfect love:
When we are in Bologna, according to Stendhal, we are entirely indifferent; we are not concerned to admire in any particular way the person with whom we shall perhaps one day be madly in love with; even less is our imagination inclined to overrate their worth. In a word, in Bologna “crystallization” has not yet begun. When the journey begins, love departs. One leaves Bologna, climbs the Apennines, and takes the road to Rome. The departure, according to Stendhal, has nothing to do with one’s will; it is an instinctive moment. This "transformative process" actuates in terms of four steps along a journey:
- Admiration – one marvels at the qualities of the loved one.
- Acknowledgement – one notices the return affection of the charming person.
- Hope – one envisions gaining the love of the loved one.
- Delight – one exults in overrating the beauty and merit of the person he or she loves.
First, one admires the other person. Second, one acknowledges the pleasantness in having acquired the interest of a charming person. Third, hope emerges. In the fourth stage, one delights in overrating the beauty and the merit of the person whose love one hopes to win. This pictured journey of this crystallization process (shown above) was detailed by Stendhal on the back of a playing card, while speaking to Madame Gherardi, during his trip to Salzburg salt mine.
Fairburn's human chemistry (1914)Edit
In 1914, William Armstrong Fairburn, a work-minded sociology writer, published an interesting 55-page book entitled Human Chemistry. In this book, Fairburn views workers as chemical elements in a well-stocked laboratory and handlers of people as chemists. The primary requirement of a successful handler, according to Fairburn, is a thorough knowledge of the characteristics and temperament of each individual so to optimize the ‘reactions resulting from combinations of individuals’. Fairburn theorizes that people can be categorized by measures of "personal entropy", which in chemistry is thought of as both the inverse of the measure of order in the system as well as the amount of energy in a thermodynamic system unavailable to do useful work.
In a similar manner, in physician George W. Carey’s 1919 book The Chemistry of Human Life, the human body is considered a storage battery, which must be constantly supplied with the proper elements so to set up the proper motion and vibration that is termed “life”. Interestingly, with there only being seventy-two elements known to exist during these years, Carey states soundly that “man’s body is a chemical formula in operation.”
Early 20th century viewsEdit
In Peter Clark's 1927 The Power and Science of Love, he speaks of "affinities" between people, and states that love is a power of attraction. According to Clark, the degree of love between a man and a woman, which goes deeper than passion and is not based upon purely physical mating, is "the attraction of the common bond at which both are vibrating". Everyday activities, from Clark's perspective, are but sense appearances in themselves or "reactions to forces not perceptible to sense." Clark states, that we do not see force causes, but rather see only reaction processes and effects.
In the early part of the 20th century, psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung worked to apply the concepts and laws in chemistry and thermodynamics, such as entropy and the laws of thermodynamics, to human life. One result of these efforts was the development of psychodynamics, i.e. mental psychology from a thermodynamic point of view. Later, in 1944, Jung published his influential book Psychology and Alchemy, which is a study of the analogies between alchemy, Christian dogma, and psychological symbolism. Although criticized for his interest in this area, many agree that the central question for Jung was what the subject of alchemy revealed about the mind, especially at the level of the mind that Jung called the collective unconscious.
Various writers, from time to time, have used Jung's alchemical views as a basis for further exposition. In Nathan Schwartz-Salant's 1998 The Mystery of Human Relationship - Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self, for example, insights from Jung's writings as well as those found in the ancient art of alchemy are used to explain how a transformative process can be set in motion between two people once partners in a relationship learn how to enter "the interactive field that lies between them."
With the development the new field of neurochemistry in the 1950s, scientists began to look into the neurological basis of interpersonal chemistry. One of the first technical books in this field was neurochemist Herbert Meltzer's 1979 The Chemistry of Human Behavior, which describes in relatively simple statements what was currently known about "brain chemistry" during these early years. The relatively new field of neurochemistry, for example, had only recently come into existence in the 1950s. Meltzer discusses such topics as transient behavior changes produced by ingested substances, chemical imprinting, for example mallard ducklings "chemically imprint" to a mother-like figure during the 5th to 24th hour after hatching, and the chemical aspects of abnormal behavior in humans.
In the last fifty or so years, developments in neurochemistry and immunology have begun to shed light on the chemical nature of love. Some of the more famous studies and publications are psychologist Michael Liebowitz’s 1983 book The Chemistry of Love, Time magazine’s famous 1993 cover-story article “The Chemistry of Love”, and Claus Wedekind’s 1995 study “MHC-dependent Mate Preferences in Humans”, i.e. the smelly T-shirt study, where he showed that women are most attracted the smell of men with a more dissimilar major histocompatibility complex, which during reproduction leads to offspring with healthier immune systems.
Over the last decade, one of the dominant researchers in this field has been anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of the recent 2004 book Why We Love – the Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. Fisher distinguishes between four personality types each of which she associates with a body chemical:
In 2006, her MRI research, which showed that the ventral tegmental area and the caudate nucleus become active when people are madly in love, was featured in the (February) National Geographic cover-page article: "Love - the Chemical Reaction".
Similarly, in a recent 2006 article entitled "Interpersonal chemistry through negativity: Bonding by sharing negative attitudes about others", a group of researchers led by Jennifer Bosson conducted three studies in which they found that sharing a negative attitude, as compared to a positive attitude, about a third party is particularly effective in promoting closeness between people. Specifically, they found that discovering a shared negative attitude about a target person predicted liking for a stranger more strongly than discovering a shared positive attitude (but only when attitudes were weak). Presumably, sharing negative attitudes is alluring because it establishes in-group/out-group boundaries, boosts self-esteem, and conveys highly diagnostic information about attitude holders. They also found that people tend to recall sharing more negative than positive thoughts with their closest friends about other people.
The use and application of chemical terminology to the areas of human life, e.g. “a restless chemistry possessed the group” (John Updike), work life, e.g. “an astonishing chemistry between the actors”, and love life, e.g. “the chemistry between us was immediate”, was said to have begun in the late 16th century, in the alchemical sense, in terms of there being a perceived chemical affinity between people. A common early phrase, for example, was “a mysterious alchemy brought them together.” Other recent definitions are:
- Interpersonal chemistry – the way two individuals relate to each other.
- Chemistry – the interaction of one personality with another or sympathetic understanding.
- Chemistry – a strong mutual attraction, attachment, or sympathy.
- Chemistry – the elements of a complex entity and their dynamic interrelation; mutual attraction or sympathy.
- Chemistry – any complex, especially emotional, change or process; a person’s personality or temperament.
- Chemistry – instinctual attraction or affinity (from the alchemical sense).
- Chemistry – an instinctual, apparently unanalysable, attraction or affinity between people or groups of people; the combination of personal characteristics that create this.
- Chemistry - a feeling of affiliation, bonding, or comfort, which is sometimes present in the first fifteen minutes of meeting someone new. Chemistry can persist for years in friendship or a sexual relationship, but as it pertains to first dates and meeting strangers, it refers to a rather immediate feeling of rapport, comfort and liking. Sexual interest may be present but is not required. It may also be used to define a strong sexual attraction, sometimes without the presence of the feelings of compatibility, comfort, rapport, etc. In the initial first meetings or dates of a relationship, people in modern cultures often, but not always, seek this feeling as a precursor to further friendship or sexual intimacy.
- Main article: Human bonding
People, throughout history, have often considered phenomena such as “love at first sight” or “instant friendships” to be the result of an uncontrollable force of attraction or affinity. One of the first to theorize in this direction was the Greek philosopher Empedocles who in the fourth century BC argued for existence of two forces: love (philia) and strife (neikos), which were used to account for the causes of motion in the universe. These two forces were said to intermingle with the four elements, i.e. earth, water, air, and fire, in such a manner that love, so to say, served as the binding power linking the various parts of existence harmoniously together.
Later, Plato interpreted Empedocles’ two agents as attraction and repulsion, stating that their operation is conceived in an alternate sequence. From these arguments, Plato originated the concept of “likes attract”, e.g. earth is thus attracted towards earth, water toward water, and fire toward fire. In modern terms this is often phrased in terms of “birds of a feather flock together”. Later, following developments in electrical theories, such as Coulomb's law, which showed that positive and negative charges attract, analogs in human life were developed such as "opposites attract". Over the last century, researcher on the nature of human mating, such as in evolutionary psychology, agree that pairs unite or attract to each other owing to a combination of opposites attract, e.g. people with dissimilar immune systems tend to attract, and likes attract, such similarities of personality, character, views, etc. In recent years, various human bonding theories have been developed described in terms of attachments, ties, bonds, and or affinities.
- Main article: Love (scientific views)
- Oxytocin [C43</sup>H66N12</sup>O12S2] – bonding molecule (hormone): high levels correlate with strong pair-bonding.
- sometimes called the ‘cuddle chemical’.
- levels rise during kissing and foreplay, and peak during orgasm.
- Vasopressin – monogamy molecule (hormone)
- responsible for creating intense loving memories during passionate situations.
- responsible for clarity of thought and alertness during passionate situations.
- Endorphin - calming natural pain killer
- levels increase in response to touch, pleasing visual stimulus (as a smile), or after having positive thoughts.
- thought to be the main attachment chemical in longterm relationships.
- PEA [C8</sup>H11</sup>N] – amphetamine molecule (neurotransmitter)
- Dopamine [C8</sup>H11</sup>NO2</sup>] – desire molecule (neurotransmitter): levels increase as passion levels increase.
- elavated levels are associated with romantic love.
- Serotonin [C10</sup>H12</sup>N2</sup>O] – stability molecule (neurotransmitter)
- DHEA [C19</sup>H28</sup>O2</sup>] – most abundant hormone
- increases sex drive and influences who one finds attractive.
- levels increase to three to five times that of baseline before and during orgasm.
- Prolactin – motherly hormone (stops female and male sex-drive)
- Testosterone [C19</sup>H28</sup>O2</sup>] – masculinization hormone (high testosterone-laden males tend to bond with high estrogen-laden females)
- levels drop in men who are involved in long-term monogamous relationships.
- functions as the main sex drive hormone for both men and women.
- Estrogen – feminization hormone (high estrogen-laden females tend to bond with high testosterone-laden males)
- Androsterone [C19</sup>H30</sup>O2</sup>] – a pheromone attractor
- Squalene [C30</sup>H5</sup>0] – a pheromone repellant (stops male courtship behavior in snakes)
- Progesterone [C21</sup>H30</sup>O2</sup>] – reverse sex-drive hormone
- Norepinephrine [C8</sup>H11</sup>NO3</sup>] - elevated levels are associated with romantic love.
- The ventral tegmental area and the caudate nucleus become more active when madly in love.
- When looking at a lover’s photo the anterior cingulated cortex and the basal ganglia become more active.
- When looking at a lover’s photo the posterior cingulated gyrus and the right pre-frontal cortex become less active.
- During the first six months of love, serotonin levels drop to 40 percent below those in normal subjects.
- Women are vomeronasally-attracted to men with dissimilar major histocompatibilty complexes.
Another area to consider is the relatively new subject of "online chemistry". Currently, online dating is a half-a-billion dollar a year industry boasting near to one-thousand online dating sites. One can supposedly go online and for as little as forty dollars per month (PerfectMatch.com) to as much as ten-thousand dollars (Debra Winkler Personal Search) have one’s romantic life matched up optimally according to various matching schemes. Moreover, some sites claim to be pairing couples according to "matching" interpersonal chemistry levels. Chemistry.com, associated with love researcher Helen Fisher, for example, proclaims to be the first site to recognize chemistry as an essential ingredient in successful relationships and proclaims to use the latest "science of attraction" to predict which pairs of men and women will have "dating chemistry". Likewise, eChemistry.com, started by chemical engineer Glenn Gasner, declares that they have discovered the laws of nature based on thorough scientific research using the scientific method. Others, such as BioLoveMatch.com, can supposedly calculate compatibility matching between potential love pairs based on biorhythms.
- Biological Attraction
- Love (scientific views)
- Interpersonal ties
- Physical attractiveness
- ↑ Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Premium Edition (2006).
- ↑ Williams, Scott. (2002). "Managing Team Chemistry." - Leaderletter, Wright State University
- ↑ Feldman, Debra. (2005). "Six Ways to Maximize Job Search Success". IEEE-USA Today's Engineer, September.
- ↑ DeMarco, Tom; Lister, Timothy (1999). Peopleware - Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd. Ed., Dorset House Publishing Co.. ISBN 0-932633-43-9.
- ↑ Callaway, Marguerite, Moore (2006). The Energetics of Business, Lincoln Park Productions. ISBN 0-9774976-0-7.
- ↑ Nochimson, Martha P. (2002). Screen Couple Chemistry - the Power of 2, University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75579-1.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Ackerman, Diane (1994). A Natural History of Love, Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-76183-7.
- ↑ ABC Gallery – Elective Affinities (1933).
- ↑ Oxford University Press (2006). Book Review of Goethe’s Elective Affinities.
- ↑ Prigogine, Ilya (1984). Order Out Of Chaos, Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34082-4.
- ↑ Lehn, Jean-Marie (1995). Supramolecular Chemistry, VHC. ISBN 3-527-29284-5.
- ↑ Fairburn, William, Armstrong (1914). Human Chemistry, The Nation Valley Press, Inc..
- ↑ Clark, Peter (1927). The Power and Science of Love, Desert Publishing Company (Kessinger Publishing Rare Reprint). ISBN 1-4179-7866-X.
- ↑ Hall, Calvin S.; Nordby, Vernon J. (1999). A Primer of Jungian Psychology, New York: Meridian. ISBN 0-452-01186-8.
- ↑ Schwartz-Salant, Nathan (1998). ''The Mystery of Human Relationship - Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self, New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-15389-1.
- ↑ Meltzer, Herbert L. Meltzer (1997). The Chemistry of Human Behavior, Nelson-Hall. ISBN 0-88229-177-7.
- ↑ Wedekind, Claus (1995). "MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Procedings of the Royal Society of London 260:245-49.
- ↑ Fisher, Helen (2004). Why We Love – the Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-6913-5.
- ↑ Bosson, Jennifer K.; Johnson, Amber B.; Niederhoffer, kate; Swann, William B. (2006). "Interpersonal chemistry through negativity: Bonding by sharing negative attitudes about others." Personal relationships, Vol 13, No. 2 June pp. 135-150(16).
- ↑ WordNet Princeton University, 2003
- ↑ Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006
- ↑ Merriam Webster, 2002
- ↑ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000
- ↑ Oxford Illustrated American Dictionary, 1998
- ↑ Online Etymology Dictionary, c. 1600
- ↑ Oxford English Dictionary, c. 1600
- ↑ Berend, Robert E. (2003). “Perceptions of Chemistry, First Date Selection Criteria and Factors in First Intercourse from the San Francisco Area”, Ph.D. dissertation, September 22.
- ↑ Jammer, Max (1956). Concepts of Force, Dover Publications, Inc.. ISBN 0-486-40689-X.
- ↑ Berscheid, Ellen; Walster, Elaine, H. (1969). Interpersonal Attraction, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.. CCCN 69-17443.
- ↑ For those newly in love 7-months, the caudate nucleus, septum pellucidum, and ventral tegmental area are predominately active; for those 2.3 years in love, the caudate nucleus, anterior cingulate cortex, and the insular cortex become more active. Source: Bartels, A. & Zeki, S. (2000). "The Neural Basis of Romantic Love." NeuroReport 2 (17): 12-15.
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Crenshaw, T. (1997). The Alchemy of Love and Lust – Discovering our Sex Hormones and how they Determine who we Love, when we Love, and How Often we Love. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons. ISBN 0-399-14041-7
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 32.2 Wilson, Glenn; McLaughlin, Chris (2001). The Science of Love, Fusion Press. ISBN 1-901250-54-7.
- ↑ 33.0 33.1 33.2 Gottlieb, L. (2006). “the New Science of Love – online dating has become an enormous social experiment, and it is allowing scientists to unlock the secrets of human attraction”. The Atlantic. March ’06, Vol. 297, No. 2.
- ↑ Slater, L. (2006). “Love – the Chemical Reaction.” National Geographic, February.
- Crenshaw, Theresa, L. (1997). The Alchemy of Love and Lust - Discovering our Sex Hormones and how they Determine who we Love, when we Love, and How Often we Love, G.P. Putman’s Sons. ISBN 0-399-14041-7.
- Fishman, Barbara; Ashner, Laurie (1994). Resonance - the New Chemistry of Love, Harper San Francisco. ISBN 0-06-250719-2.
- Walsh, Anthony (1991). The Science of Love - Understanding Love and its Effects on Mind and body, Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-648-9.
- Why do people use the word ‘chemistry’ when describing relationships – MadSci Network
- Wedekind, Claus and Penn, Dustin. (2000). MHC genes, body odours, and odour preferences - Nephrol Dial Transplant (2000) 15: 1269-1271
- Is Love a Chemical Reaction? - Institute of Human Thermodynamics
- Do People Need Chemistry for a Relationship to Work? - Institute of Human Thermodynamics
- It's all about Interpersonal Chemistry - Times Online, Feb. 10, 2005
- Is there a neurochemical basis for falling in love? (A review from the Science Creative Quarterly)
- My love is chemical - article by James Adams
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