Health & beauty

Research Explains Why We're Naturally Drawn to Shiny Objects

There's a new evolutionary theory behind our compulsion to reach for shiny stuff



It's unmistakable: the aesthetics-loving eye is generally drawn to things that shine. This is perhaps most obvious when we're makeup shopping. Though we know in our heart of hearts (or is it really in our heads?) that we're better off sticking to wearable neutrals and soft colors, we can't stop ourselves from swatching opalescent glitters and high-shine glosses all over our hands before we remember why we came to Sephora in the first place -- plain old black mascara.

Of course, there's scientific reasoning for everything... or in this case, an evolutionary angle. A group of marketing scholars recently turned to small children for their observations, intrigued by prior research showing that infants, when presented with shiny objects like glossy toys or plates, licked them. That is, they put shiny objects to their mouths far more frequently than they did with dull ones, which indicates that our human attraction to shine runs much deeper than just whatever catches our eye. It may, in fact, be rooted in our "primitive desire" for water in order to survive.

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The researchers took the results of a series of several experiments to argue in an issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology that it is this instinct for water that plays a role in our reflexive response to all things glossy. Writes one of the scholars, Vanessa M. Patrick of the University of Houston, "It is humbling to acknowledge that despite our sophistication and progress as a species, we are still drawn to things that serve our innate needs -- in this case, the need for water." This still doesn't explain why it seems like every time we reach for a matte lipstick, we find our lips are impossibly chapped... so perhaps that's related to something else entirely. [Fast Company]
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