We’ve all been friend zoned before. If you haven’t then keep reading and move on to the next blog because you clearly don’t need any help. For girls, guys, and transgenders relationships can be tricky especially in college, so today I ask the question is there a formula? Is there a science to flirting? A science behind sexual attraction?
As I began my research I found it surprising how much information there is about sexual attraction, but when you actually think about it it makes sense. Sexual attraction, love, and romance are huge parts of our lives. I think I found it surprising at first because initially it seems mundane, but what’s more important to people than love?
The laws of sexual attraction explain smell, voice pitch, and face symmetry are “unconscious detectors of attractiveness.” When women ovulate they produce copulins and the scent attracts men causing their testosterone levels to rise. Sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman discusses a recent study where women smelled men’s t-shirts. The women were most attracted to the men who had different major histocompatability complex (MHC) from them. MHC are genes that indicate our type of immune system, and Berman says “we unconsciously want to mate with someone who has a different immune system than ours because that helps with the survival of our offspring.”
The CNN article above and HealthlineNews both report that men typically prefer women with high-pitched voices as it indicates the woman has a smaller body size while women prefer the opposite. Women prefer men with low-pitched voices as it indicates larger body size. The CNN article mentions that women with higher voices typically have higher estrogen levels as well which “makes them more desirable to men.” A study at the University College London researched this correlation and asked participants to judge the attractiveness of prerecorded statements from males and females. Researches manipulated “median pitch, formant dispersion, and pitch slope of the voices to reflect different body sizes.” Females preferred the lower pitched voices that in nature resemble a low, deep growl which “typically indicates a large animal and signals dominance.” The men preferred the opposite.
There is plenty of research available that concludes face symmetry is directly related to attractiveness, but researchers are still not entirely sure why. FaceResearch.org says the most common way to research the effect of face symmetry is through computer manipulations where pictures of the same face are manipulated and participants indicate which one they find the most attractive. The findings consistently show that people prefer face symmetry, but like I mentioned previously researchers are not sure why. There are two possible explanations.
- Evolutionary Advantage- “proposes that symmetric faces are attractive because symmetry indicates how healthy an individual is.”
- Perceptual Bias- this view has to do with our visual system and says that it is simply easier for humans to process symmetric stimuli
There is clearly a serious biological component to sexual attractiveness, but what about flirting? This BBC article says it “can take between 90 seconds and four minutes to decide if we fancy someone.” The article says that only 7% of flirting has to do with what we actually say while 55% is through our body language and 38% is the tone and speed of our voice. So that’s definitely refreshing to hear considering most of the time I say some pretty dumb stuff.
The article discussed a psychologist in New York who studies what happens when people fall in love. He found that the “simple act of staring into each other’s eyes has a profound impact.” He brought in participants and asked two complete strangers to sit with each other for an hour and a half and reveal intimate details about their lives. Afterwards, he asked them to stare into each others eyes without speaking for four minutes. The couples admitted “to feeling deeply attracted to their opposite and two of his subjects even married afterward.”
Another thing I found interesting in the BBC article is that when people are attracted to each other they mirror each other. One will copy the other’s physical gestures. Mirroring “marks good communication and shows us our interest is being reciprocated.”
What I find so interesting about all of this is that humans are more animalistic than we’d like to think. We like to think we are so civilized yet we just can’t say no to some good smelling major histocompatability complex genes. It’s crazy to think that men can subconsciously tell when women are ovulating and that subconsciously raises their testosterone levels. It all relates back to Andrew’s lecture on natural selection. For example, the idea that we subconsciously pick our mates based on their MHC scent to produce healthier babies or the evolutionary advantage theory that says we prefer symmetrical faces because it indicates how healthy a person is are both ways in which we pick our mates in order to have the best chance at reproduction.