“Suspension bridge effect”: Meaning & origin + 3 examples

Have you ever heard about the psychological phenomenon known as “suspension bridge effect?” You might not have, although it’s become prevalent as of late as the internet develops and people learn to explore all sorts of means to explain certain psychological effects their brains go through!

What Does “Suspension Bridge Effect” Mean?

“Suspension bridge effect” means a psychological phenomenon that occurs when you misattribute your arousal. What leads you into being aroused could be any number of things, but you’ll meet an ultimatum that’ll change your outlook and believe you’re aroused over something else entirely.

“Suspension bridge effect” is described as follows:

You’re going over a suspended bridge when you spot a gorgeous man or woman on the other side. You start to feel all the usual feelings associated with arousals, like nerves, butterflies, sweats, and an elevated heart rate. Naturally, you attribute these feelings towards your arousal for the gorgeous man or woman across the bridge. However, you’re actually feeling that way because you’re suspended high above the ground and not because of their attractiveness.

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What Is The Origin Of “Suspension Bridge Effect?”

“Suspension bridge effect” actually had an experiment to test it out in 1974. Two psychologists (Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron) wanted to test the idea to see if people would feel aroused and attribute it to the wrong thing. The study was a resounding success.

If you want to understand how they did it, it was pretty simple! First, they asked a man how attractive he found a woman. He would rate her based on their questions. He would then present the woman to the man again while he was crossing a suspension bridge. He said he found the woman much more attractive when on the suspension bridge.

Some people believe the effect doesn’t actually work, and it is still argued in many psychological circles today. There isn’t any real evidence that shows the elevation in your feelings of arousal can be attributed to something that didn’t create them in the first place. Still, it’s become a popular term to help with relationships.

Why Has “Suspension Bridge Effect” Become So Popular?

It’s become increasingly popular over recent years as a way to help couples find that “spark” that they used to have or to start up someone’s love life. With the internet becoming mainstream today, more people are exposed to potential mates (through dating sites and streaming sites, etc.) Sometimes, these people need to find a way to explore their arousal and potentially look for a way to get into relationships.

It can be quite difficult for most without using something like “suspension bridge effect” to push yourself forward. They go about exposing themselves to unrelated stimuli in the hope of bagging themselves a partner much more successfully than they would if they didn’t attempt anything associated with the effect.

It’s also become prevalent in therapy circles. Many couples therapists will recommend recreating “suspension bridge effect” to any couples who believe they have lost their “spark.” While the methods can vary (you don’t need to walk across a suspension bridge, for example), the results always end up the same.

Many people in gaming circles also attribute hype to “suspension bridge effect.” When a new game is released, and they believe it will be brilliant, they’ll often find they were wrong when they get a chance to play it. “Suspension bridge effect” could have led them to believe it would have been good in the first place. As you can see, it’s not a strictly relationship-based phenomenon.

3 Examples Of How To Use “Suspension Bridge Effect.”

Let’s look at a few examples of how best to use “suspension bridge effect.” Since it’s not used much in sentences, we’ll instead include examples of when “suspension bridge effect” is in action.

Girl: “I love you.”

Boy: “I hate this bridge, but I love you!”

Girl: You’ve never said that before.


Girl 1: “You know that bridge effect works, right?”

Girl 2: “No way, have you tried it?”

Girl 1: “Well, I’m not single anymore, am I?”


Girl: “We should try that bridge effect for our relationship.”

Boy: “Would it help us?”

Girl: “Yes, we’d find our spark again!”


See how it isn’t used itself, but is referred to in each quote?