Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 537–544 | Cite as

Love at First Fright: Partner Salience Moderates Roller-Coaster-Induced Excitation Transfer

  • Cindy M. MestonEmail author
  • Penny F. Frohlich


This study examined the effects of residual nervous system arousal on perceptions of sexual attraction. Researchers approached individuals (males, n = 165; females, n = 135) at amusement parks as they were either waiting to begin or as they had just gotten off a roller-coaster ride. Participants were shown a photograph of an average attractive, opposite-gendered individual and asked to rate the individual on attractiveness and dating desirability. Participants were also asked to rate their seatmates' levels of attractiveness. Consistent with the predictions of excitation transfer theory, for males and females riding with a nonromantic partner, ratings of attractiveness and dating desirability toward the photographed individual were higher among persons exiting than entering the ride. Among persons riding with a romantic partner, there were no significant differences in attractiveness or dating desirability ratings between persons entering and exiting the ride. The findings are discussed in terms of the potential moderator effects of a salient romantic partner on excitation transfer.

excitation transfer sexual attraction gender residual arousal sexual arousal misattribution theory 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustin

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