Do you remember the first time you met your best friend and you knew right away that the two of you would click? Whether it’s a shared sense of humor, similar interests and hobbies, or feeling a sense of comfort in each other that makes you two get along so well off the bat, science says it IS possible to fall in (platonic) love the first time you meet.
In a study published in Nature in 2009, researchers recognized two areas of the brain that become especially active when we you’re meeting someone new: the amygdala, the area of the brain that deals with emotion, survival instincts, and memory; and the posterior cingulate cortex, which is responsible for processing, learning, and autobiographical memory.
The posterior cingulate cortex or the PCC, is also used when we “asses the value of objects, possible choices, make risky decisions and calculate bets” – which we subconsciously do with humans we encounter, too. During the initial meeting, you start to assess whether or not that person will be able to meet your needs as a friend.
“What are the things we care about in a friend? We care about someone who’s going to be fun, that we can enjoy ourselves with. You need emotional support, social support, you want them to be loyal and trustworthy, you don’t want to feel judged,” says Kelly Campbell, a psychology professor at California State University, San Bernardino. “When you first see the person, you don’t realize how many judgments you’re making, but you’re actually gathering information that’s telling you if this person fills those needs for you.”
Basically, when the amygdala and PCC work together, it helps you create a first impression of someone; together, they start to evaluate and “assign a value to that individual.” Then the decision of how you want to orient or relate with that person comes to play – and that explains why you and your BFFs fell in friendship on the first meeting!