Is there a science to sexiness?
As a general rule, the things we find sexy are indicators of health and fertility:
Growing evidence shows that features we ﬁnd attractive in members of the opposite sex signal important underlying dimensions of health and reproductive viability. It has been discovered that men with attractive faces have higher quality sperm, women with attractive bodies are more fertile, men and women with attractive voices lose their virginity sooner, men who spend more money than they earn have more sex partners, and lap dancers make more tips when they are in the fertile phase of their menstrual cycle. This paper highlights recent evidence showing that the way we perceive other people has been shaped by our evolutionary history. An evolutionary approach provides a powerful tool for understanding the consistency and diversity of mating preferences and behaviors across individuals and cultures.
Source: “The Science of Sex Appeal: An Evolutionary Perspective” from Review of General Psychology 2010, Vol. 14, No. 3, 240–25
More bits from the paper:
- By sampling photographs taken from old high school yearbooks and matching them with obituary records, Henderson and Anglin (2003) discovered that both men and women with faces that contemporary college students rated as being attractive lived longer.
- Even intelligence and semen quality may be related. In anarchival sample of 425 Army veterans, Arden, Gottfredson, Miller,& Pierce (2009) found small, but signiﬁcant positive correlations between general intelligence and several important parameters of sperm quality: sperm concentration, sperm count, and sperm motility. It turns out that people with attractive faces also tend to have higher IQ scores (Zebrowitz, Hall, Murphy, & Rhodes, 2002).
- The way men rate facial attractiveness in women predicts estrogen levels and female reproductive health (Law-Smith et al.,2006). Faces can contain cues to underlying genetic resistance to disease.
- A recent study by Jokela (2009) based on an archival sample of high school yearbook photos and follow-up surveys from over 10,000 people who graduated in 1957, shows that attractiveness is, in fact, related to reproductive success. More often than not people with more attractive faces have more children. Thus, the reason there is good consensus as to which faces are attractive is because faces contain embedded features that are honest biological signals of reproductive ﬁtness.
- Women with low WHRs (narrow waists and broad hips) are consistently rated by men in many cultures as more attractive, with optimal WHRs being about .7 (Singh, 1993). Large samples of Playboy models (Tovee et al., 1997) and female ﬁlm stars (Vora-cek & Fisher, 2006) both converge on this value, with each showing average WHRs of about .68. In a recent study, men who were born blind or developed blindness later in life were presented with mannequins varying in WHR. Even those who were born blind preferred the shape of the low WHR, indicating that visual input is not necessary to develop or maintain this preference (Karremans, Frankenhuis, & Arons, 2010)… By now it should come as no surprise that women with low WHRs are more reproductively viable. They ovulate more often (Jasienska, Ziomkiewicz, Ellison, Lipson, & Thune, 2004), have more regular menstrual cycles (Van Hoof et al., 2000), and are more likely to conceive as a result of artiﬁcial insemination (Zaad-stra et al., 1993) and in vitro fertilization (Wass, Waldenstrom,Rossner, & Hellberg, 1997). Women with low WHRs are also healthier. They have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gall bladder disease, kidney disease, and various cancers (see Singh & Singh, 2006).
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