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The Scary Movie Effect

January 19, 2011

Brit Trogen

The lights dim; scary music fills the theatre; a blood-spattered actor bursts across the screen, and your date cuddles close to you in terror... while you wonder if you should start dating more masculine guys. Still, it's a classic move - even better than the yawn-stretch-and-feel! Cue up Paranormal Activity and you're certain to get some action.

 

Fear has long been linked to desire, at least in popular culture. Watch a movie about a zombie apocalypse, armageddon, or psychopathic killer, and the protagonists are pretty much guaranteed to hook up at least once before being bludgeoned to a bloody pulp. It just seems natural; when emotions are running high, libidos are too.

As it turns out, humans aren't the only ones to have figured out the aphrodisiac-effects of a good scare. The splendid fairy-wren of Australia also uses fear for flirtation. These promiscuous birds use a special mating song for courtship. But male splendid fairy-wrens don't just serenade the ladies any old time; they use a strategy called "vocal hitchhiking," singing only after they hear the call of their main predators, butcherbirds.

 


For female fairy-wrens, this results in an interesting sensation: on hearing the call of the butcherbird they become especially attentive, perked up, aroused from their state of calm, if you will. Which, combined with the revelation that life is short, is the perfect state of mind for the males to suggest a midday tryst. Who knew the splendid fairy-wrens could be so sly?

So maybe instead of buying roses or going to a restaurant, do something scientifically proven to work for procreation. Like breaking into your date's house wearing a Scream mask, or hiding in the back seat of their car with a water gun. Who says science isn't useful? 

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