Love and attraction might just be the most complex of all human emotions. It’s hard enough to understand your own attractions, but once you start trying to analyze other people’s… All bets are off. There are so many different opinions on the subject, just an hour of advice-article-searching can turn up dozens of tips. Do you play hard-to-get? Do you lay it all out on the table? Who has time to keep it all straight?
Well, scientists, apparently.
Turns out there have been studies done to help understand the rules of attraction a little better. While there are still a lot of mysteries to dig through, one thing’s for sure: Attraction is definitely a science and not an art.
Secret #1: Premarital sex is in our nature.
Let me be clear: I’m not talking about just the LGBT community… I’m talking about humans as a species. A total of 34,909 American women (and 4,298 men) were polled through the National Survey of Family Growth, or NSFG. This survey asks questions about contraceptive, marital, childbearing, and sexual behaviors, and while it doesn’t explicitly ask about premarital sex, individual survey responses can be used to determine whether the person had premarital sex or not.
In a previous version of the study’s analysis had indicated that 85% of married, divorced, and widowed American women had sex before they were first married. After the 2002 results were added, Dr. Lawrence B. Finer, PhD, decided to analyze whether never-married women were just as likely to have premarital sex, and he found that they definitely were.
To read more about this study, check out the synopsis here.
Secret #2: Physical attractiveness is distracting.
I know, I know: We all knew this already. But did you know it’s actually been proven? In a study published in January 2016, scientists decided to have participants try a mentally-challenging task. The subjects were told to ignore the unrelated faces they were shown – but when an “attractive face” appeared, the participants weren’t able to focus on the task they were given.
The specifics of attraction are bound to vary from one person to the next, but their physical appearance is the thing that catches our eyes. From this information, the scientists gathered a selection of images. Half of the photos were digitally manipulated to be more conventionally attractive, while the other half was manipulated to be less attractive. They even analyzed eye tracking to see if the participants were looking at the parts of the photographs that had been retouched – and, in many cases, they were.
Although the study used all heterosexual-identified female participants, it’s still interesting to see how this information translates in the context of their experiment. If you’d like to read more about this particular study, check it out here.
Secret #3: Your voice changes when you talk to someone you find attractive.
Aside from the physical, many people are attracted to the sound of someone’s voice, and your voice will go lower when you’re talking to that person. (Interestingly enough, when you talk about something you’re excited about, your voice goes up – it’d be interesting to see how those details balance out when you talk to your crush about your hobbies…)
OK, so the voice change that happens when you talk to someone is basically common knowledge. Anyone who’s spent any time watching their friends flirt could probably figure this one out on their own, right? But, according to a November 2014 study, that new, lower-pitched voice is perceived as more attractive than the non-altered voice, consistently, by an unrelated third party.
The entire study is pretty interesting, actually, especially if you’re interested in the science of sound (I am). If you don’t feel like reading the summary, just know: Other people can tell when you use your “sexy voice,” and it’s probably working, too.