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The Misattribution of Arousal illustration: a couple in the early stages of romance reflect on how excited they were to ride on a roller coaster together. Was the excitement due to each others' company or the roller coaster itself? Or maybe a bit of both?

The misattribution of arousal

It turns out when our body gets excited about something, we can’t reliably tell what caused the excitement.

In David McRaney’s brilliant article, he explains how we routinely misattribute physiological arousal and how the most common target of misattribution is other people. It’s part of why doing challenging or exciting activities with your partner can help strengthen your relationship, and why roller coasters and scary movies can make great first dates — when we reflect on the time, we often assume that it was the person we were with that helped get our heart racing rather than the excitement of the activity.

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