Who’s that hottie over there?
Why are we attracted to some, but not others?
Finding “the one” is what many people want more than anything, but many have problems meeting that perfect person.
Chemistry, attraction, pheromones — how does it all work? Why do we like some better than others?
Attraction can be one of the trickiest things to figure out, yet it’s one of the most important things when we are looking for that significant other. Without attraction there can be no love.
Seductive glances across the room, or love at first sight, is the cliché but there is a lot more that goes on to make you like one person over another.
Scientists have pondered what makes us like one each other, and while there are evolutionary guesses, the majority is still unknown.
Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist who is best known as a scientist who studies love, and has previously said that the human body is such a finely tuned attraction-seeking machine, it takes only one second to intuitively decide whether someone’s physically hot or not.
It takes less than seven seconds to know if you’re into someone. The body reacts instantly when you meet someone you like. The pupils dilate and the eyebrows will rise when meeting a new person, all without even noticing.
With all the research that has been done on attraction, one theme seems to be agreed upon the most: we like people who are familiar to us. We like people who are similar to ourselves, people with similar backgrounds, are near to us, and even those who have similar features and who look like ourselves.
Susan Boon, an associate psychology professor at the University of Calgary, echoed that statement.
“We tend to like more people who like us, so reciprocity is important. We’re attracted to people who look like they would be receptive to our attempts to get closer to them,” Boon said, meaning that we also like people who like us back.
When looking at attraction, we often think of physical appearance and reproductive biology as a genetic magnetism that has to do with fertility and providing for offspring.
The draw for men would be an hourglass body in a woman, signifying better chances of being fertile and popping out babies.
According to Ronald Riggio, a researcher from Claremont McKenna College in California, for women, the biggest appeal would be men with higher testosterone levels, which is translated into men who are taller, have wider shoulders and wider jaws. Riggio has studied which body shapes are most attractive to the opposite sex.
There are a lot of studies that have been done to prove that femininity and masculinity indeed are the reason for attraction, but is that really the case? Is baby-making the only reason we like someone?
Maki Motapanyane, an associate professor of women’s studies at MRU, explained that we also have to take our world’s social dynamics into consideration when thinking about attraction.
The idea of familiarity seems to be widely agreed upon, but Motapanyane said that isn’t always the case, and that there can be different aspects of our social world that can influence our likes and dislikes about others.
“We have a lot of examples of people being extremely attracted to something very different from them,” Motapanyane said, referring to the idea of “opposites attract.”
We can look to science to explain why we like someone, why we are attracted to them and not someone else — but in our world there are other things that are influencing factors, and we are not just animals looking to mate.
“We can look to biological explanations for things, that’s one way to do it, but we can also try to pay attention to the social and political dynamics that frame attraction,” Motapanyane said.
“It’s about looking to the social and noticing the exceptions.”
There may be evolutionary theories that state what it is what attracts us to one another, but those studies only look at the physical and not at the huge social world that we live in.
Hormone levels are not the only thing that people find attractive, and there are lots of other influences that change the way we view attraction and love.
So, if you have yet to make sparks fly with “the one,” make sure you’re keeping an open mind when you’re out there searching. It’s usually not like being struck down by a bolt of lightning the second you see them, but some- thing that stems from familiarity, social factors and, yes, some raging hormones.