The Impact of Fascination on the Brain

When someone is fascinated by something, or someone, then they feel alive, inspired, amazed, and, of course, happy. Few emotions have a greater impact on the mind than fascination.
The Impact of Fascination on the Brain
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Fascination is the emotion that neuromarketing experts always aim for. As do all artists, filmmakers, or content creators. They all know that, if they’re able to awaken this feeling in their target audience, then success is guaranteed. Learn all about the impact of fascination in today’s article.

When someone feels fascinated by something, they don’t forget the stimulus it gave them. There’s a lasting psychological impression, which awakens positive feelings and inspires.

We’d like to ask you a simple question. When was the last time you experienced this emotion? Maybe it was after seeing a work of art or a movie. Maybe you were fascinated by a landscape, a piece of music, the latest technological breakthrough, or even a person. There are few sensations as pleasant as this one.

We categorize fascination as a “positive emotion”, but, in reality, it’s able to produce an endless number of sensations, feelings, and thoughts. It makes us feel happy, joyful, inspired, interested, amazed, and, sometimes, even in love.

As we can easily deduce from this, we’re talking here about a psycho-physiological state of great transcendence. The impact of fascination is a considerable one. So much so that we often try to use this emotion to influence others. People who are able to fascinate a certain group won’t only capture their attention but will also be accepted and admired by them.

A woman with a flower at night.

The impact of fascination

Every teacher or educator knows that, to awaken a child’s interest, you have to light the spark of fascination in them. They need to know how they can create this emotion using the material they need to teach so that their teaching becomes more motivating.

This emotion creates a great impact on the child’s mind and enables us to encourage their interest in learning, but also in discovering.

Fascination is a very powerful state of mind. What’s the reason for this? Well, every stimulus that generates fascination in us almost instantly activates our limbic system. This is the brain region linked to emotions. Once this area is stimulated, endorphins (pleasure hormones) are released, which can even help people focus and flow with new ideas.

An interesting fact is that the term “fascinate” has its Latin roots in another word it derives from: to bewitch. For a long time, this word had a negative connotation. People believed that anyone who experienced fascination was capable of exerting different types of evil powers and of influencing and controlling other people.

These days, people don’t believe this. From a psychological standpoint, feeling fascinated by something is the result of a psychological process of positive well-being and transcendence.

Innovation and fascination always go hand in hand

The big brands on the market, especially technological ones, know that, if they want to reach their customers, they must achieve a great emotional impact. If we don’t get excited about a product, that isn’t a good sign. We could also add that, if a new product doesn’t create fascination in its target audience, then it generally isn’t innovative enough.

Therefore, we can define fascination by using a series of very specific factors:

  • The things that fascinate us also challenge us because they seem to be different in some way and capture our attention because of that. Our brain is always attracted to different, stimulating, and attractive elements.
  • Also, it generates desire, expectation, and great curiosity.
  • If something fascinates us, then, in turn, it creates confidence and security. It doesn’t matter if it’s new. If it’s fascinating, then it’s desirable, and, if we want it, then it attracts us.

When you feel fascinated, you’re living in the moment and you’re in a state of flow

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has also studied the concept of fascination and related it to the state of flow. He explains that feeling fascinated isn’t the same as feeling interested in something. It’s a lot deeper than that.

It’s almost like falling in love, because it injects us with a feeling of absolute concentration. We focus on the here and now and experience a sense of absolute commitment to whatever captured our attention.

The Sphinx.

The power of aesthetic fascination

The impact of fascination is key to aesthetic emotions. Rafael Bisquerra, a professor at the University of Barcelona, defines aesthetic emotion as the response generated when the brain interprets something as beautiful. However, we could go a lot further here. Because, in reality, we aren’t only moved by what’s pleasing or attractive to the eyes.

The brain is also fascinated by mysterious things that arouse an intense interest in us. Studies like this one conducted at the University of Belgrade (Serbia) give us food for thought on the matter.

Few things have a greater impact on our mind than those that seem ambiguous to us. When we receive an aesthetic stimulus that combines the known and the unknown, the brain is aroused, inspired, and impressed.

Things that fascinate us make us want to know more. It’s like observing the Great Sphinx of Giza. We’re attracted by its dimensions, location, shape, and history.

However, what really captures us more than its beauty is its mystery. When the aesthetic is combined with the challenging, there’s a greater imprint on our mind and the emotional effect is greater.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bisquerra Alzina, Rafael (2009). Psicopedagogía de las emociones. Madrid: Paidos
  • Schindler, I., Hosoya, G., Menninghaus, W., Beermann, U., Wagner, V., Eid, M., & Scherer, K. R. (2017). Measuring aesthetic emotions: A review of the literature and a new assessment tool. PLoS ONE, 12(6), Article e0178899.
  • Marković S. (2012). Components of aesthetic experience: aesthetic fascination, aesthetic appraisal, and aesthetic emotion. i-Perception3(1), 1–17.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.