In this post, well unpack all you need to know about Attraction, defining exactly what it is, its role in evolution, the attraction cues of men and women and more.
What Is Attraction?
Attraction, also known as sexual attraction or sex appeal, refers to an individual’s ability to attract other people sexually. It plays an essential part in sexual selection or mate choice.
Attraction Versus Arousal
Attraction is a psychological state marked by mental interest in another person. Arousal is a physiological state marked by physical interest in another person. Attraction is a choice. Arousal is not.
It’s important to understand that it is possible to be attracted to someone without feeling aroused and it is possible to be aroused by someone without being attracted to them.
The Evolutionary Perspective
Attraction is based on deep evolutionary understanding and a few essential principles at its core.
Since evolution’s sole aim is to propagate the human species, men and women have been programmed with sophisticated behavioural systems designed to maximise their chances of survival and reproduction.
For our ancient ancestors who lived in an exponentially more dangerous and threatening world, those who successfully survived and reproduced passed on their genes while those who failed to survive and reproduce did not.
“Beauty is in the adaptations of the beholder.” ― Donald Symons
Evolved Sexual Psychologies
Men’s evolved sexual psychology influences women’s psychology. Women’s evolved sexual psychology influences men’s psychology.
Men compete to embody what women want. Women compete to embody what men want. Men develop and then demonstrate qualities that women find sexually attractive. Women develop and then demonstrate qualities that men find sexually attractive.
The Attraction Cues Of Men & Women
The characteristics that men and women value are keys to understanding the means to attract a mate. Male mate preferences shape the behaviour of females. Female mate preferences shape the behaviour of males.
Evolution endowed men with the responsibility of impregnating women. Thus, they evolved to select for fertility. The two primary cues of fertility are youth and health which essentially communicate to a man that a woman is capable of conceiving and raising offspring.
3 primary signals of youth and health are:
- Hourglass waist.
- Smooth skin.
- High-pitched voice.
Evolution endowed women with the responsibility of bearing children. Thus, they evolved to select for security ― mental, emotional and physical. The two primary cues of security are strength and recourses which essentially communicate to a woman that a man can protect and provide for both her and her offspring.
3 primary signals of strength and recourses are:
- V-shape torso.
- Low-pitched voice.
Due to the key qualities that contribute to each sexes value, a man’s value tends to increase with age whereas a woman’s value tends to decrease.
In addition, from an evolutionary perspective, more attractive men were better off spending more time seeking mates and less time investing in offspring. Less attractive men were better off spending less time seeking mates and more time investing in offspring.
“Men prioritise qualities in women that signal fertility. Women prioritise qualities in women that signal security.”
“A man’s strength motivates a woman’s beauty. A woman’s beauty motivates a man’s strength.”
The standards of beauty are universal, both within and across cultures.
Studies have demonstrated that infants as young as two and three months old gaze longer at a face that adults judge to be more attractive than at a face that adults judge to be unattractive, indicating the infants’ preference for attractive faces.
Beauty therefore, from an evolutionary perspective, is objective.
There are a number of invisible ― yet real ― forces at work that determine which members of the opposite sex we become interested in and which members we don’t. Men’s evolved sexual psychology influences women’s psychology. Women’s evolved sexual psychology influences men’s psychology.
The characteristics that men and women value are keys to to understanding attraction. Men select women based on cues that signal fertility. Women select men based on cues that signal security.