Gosh darn, I just can’t help but get excited when there are legit psychology references in shows.
If you’re confused at these two lines and thinking, “why would suspense ever bring two people closer??” Lemme break it down for you.
Izaya is actually making a direct reference to a psychological phenomenon known as the misattribution of arousal. It’s based off of Schachter’s two-factor theory of emotion which states that the process of emotion occurs like so; stimulant (eg. bear chasing you) -> physiological arousal (heart rate increasing, adrenaline, pupil dilation) AND cognitive labeling (oh, my heart is racing I must be feeling fear!) -> emotion (*feeling fear*).
This theory implies that when we attribute the label of an emotion to the physiological arousal we feel, we actually end up feeling the emotion itself. In other words, emotions to a small degree are a result of what we think we’re feeling. Strong, long-term emotions can not be altered by labeling it as something else, telling yourself that you are happy when you are sad doesn’t work. The emotions must have the same/similar physiological responses to be confused together, this is what is known as the misattribution of arousal.
Schachter also proved his theory in an experiment. Researchers had a group of white males cross a very high, wobbly bridge, and another group cross a low very safe and sturdy bridge. At the end of the bridge, a female researcher would ask them questions about a picture, and then give them her phone number “in case they had questions about the experiment”. Hint hint, she actually gave them her number to measure the difference in phone calls they got from the men that experienced arousal from crossing the high bridge, and the men than didn’t experience it from crossing the low bridge.(note: the men were told the study and the questionnaire was for something else entirely, and didn’t know the true purpose of the study).
The men that experienced arousal from crossing the high bridge had more sexual content in the story they told regarding the picture when they saw the female researcher. She also received more phone calls from this group in comparison to the control group. Later, they redid this study with women, and the results were the same. In conclusion, people will mistakenly misattribute emotions that are similar to each other physiologically. The participants mistook their physiological arousal and fear from crossing the bridge for sexual attraction.
Izaya is mockingly asking Shinra here if he confused his fear of getting caught by the police for sexual attraction/arousal/love for Celty.
I know his reference is a little vague here, but considering that Narita stated that Izaya was most likely in the social sciences during university, it’s pretty expected that he learned about this theory. This is one of the more respected theories of emotion.