Suspension Bridge Effect – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you thinking about where you should take your date tonight? Why not swing past the amusement park and take her on the rollercoaster? The “suspension bridge effect” could work to your advantage and land you that second date and a new partner in a relationship.

What is the “suspension bridge effect,” and what does it have to do with your dating life? This post unpacks everything you need to know about this phenomenon.


The suspension bridge effect is a scientific and psychological term used to describe a biological reaction in our psychology when we are under pressure. When we experience external stimulus that ignites our adrenal response, it plays a strange role in our minds and interpreting our environment.

The Suspension Bridge Effect is also known as the “misattribution of arousal.” It’s a phenomenon stating that something looks better when under a pressure environment, like standing on a suspension bridge.

Typically, the phrase’s experiment involves men’s feelings for women when they experience exposure to an adrenaline-inducing situation, such as standing on the suspension bridge. Men will find unattractive women more visually appealing and become more sexually aroused when they are in dangerous, adrenaline-inducing scenarios.

Example Usage

“Look at that girl over there, she must be under the suspension bridge effect, or that guy has some deep pockets.”

Tim: “Kim and I went riding dirt bikes the other day, and I’m feeling some kinda way about here now. There’s just something about a woman that can handle a machine like that.”

Leon: “That’s the suspension bridge effect, my friend.”

Susan: “I went riding dirt bikes with Tim the other day, and I think I have a crush on him now. Watching him ride ahead of the pack was so thrilling.”

Dee: “Are you sure you’re not feeling the suspension bridge effect there, girl?”


The suspension bridge effect comes from an experiment set by psychologists Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron in 1974. The experiment involved using a suspension bridge to show how the impact of heightened, adrenal response affects the natural selection process.

At the time, the scientists labeled it the “misattribution of arousal.” The team asked candidates what they thought of a woman’s attractiveness while standing on a straight, sturdy concrete bridge. They asked the same many the same question when standing on a suspension footbridge.

The results of the test show the man is more attracted to the woman when standing on the suspension bridge. Therefore, introducing stimuli to the situation makes the person more attractive, forming a stronger bond – in short, taking your first date on the roller coaster is a good idea if you want to make a good impression.

Phrases Similar to Suspension Bridge Effect

  • Rose-colored glasses.
  • Beer goggles.

Phrases Opposite to Suspension Bridge Effect

  • Unknown.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Suspension bridge effect.

Ways People May Say Suspension Bridge Effect Incorrectly

Some people may use the “suspension bridge effect” when talking about the effects of suspension bridges on design dynamics. This is not the use of the phrase in social conversation. The suspension bridge effect refers to the misattribution of arousal, not engineering.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Suspension Bridge Effect

You can use the “Suspension bridge effect” to describe other people’s strange attraction to others that don’t seem to make sense to you. For instance, if you see a pretty girl with an unattractive man, you could say that she either suffers from the suspension bridge effect or he has a fat wallet. The suspension bridge effect is similar to many other terms, like “beer goggles.”


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