Playing with magnets could increase levels of satisfaction, intimacy and commitment amongst romantic partners, new research has suggested.
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The research examined the metaphor "love is a physical force". This metaphor is instantiated in utterances such as, "we were immediately attracted to each other", and "there was a magnetism between us", as well as in the maxim that "opposites attract".
In two experiments, the researchers investigated whether activating a metaphorical representation of "love as a physical force" influenced the experience of love -- attraction, intimacy, commitment, and satisfaction.
"These experiments reiterate the basic point of conceptual metaphor theory, that these metaphors that we use in language aren't just figures of speech or ways of talking about things," study co-author Andrew Christy, graduate student in psychology at Texas A&M University was quoted as saying by Live Science.
"They actually are reflective of how we think about things, too," Christy explained.
The first experiment involved 120 students, between ages 18-22, who were either in relationships or had been in relationships within the last few months.
The participants were told to take a "mental break" before filling out questionnaires about their connection with their partners.
They were given options to play with magnetised blocks that attracted each other, magnetised blocks that repelled each other, and some 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 told Live Science.
In their next experiment with 150 students, the researchers included only blocks with magnets that attracted, and non-magnetised 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 non-magnetised blocks.
"In the experiments, participants exposed to magnets reported greater levels of satisfaction, attraction, intimacy, and commitment," the study said.
The study was published in the open access journal PLOS ONE on May 26.