attraction

Is attraction a choice? (Part 2: Biology of Attraction)

attraction 2Attraction is partly biological. Without getting into the science of things too deeply, there are certain biological physical outward factors that cause men to be attracted to certain women and women to be attracted to certain men.

If you are interested here is an excellent article on the subject for Psychology Today: http://bit.ly/14hrhl9. The National also has a briefer article on the subject that may be helpful (http://bit.ly/YqbYFQ).

A quick example of the incredible influence of biological development on attraction. Studies have found that when women are not interested in a long term relationship with a man, they tend to find the more masculine man to be more attractive. However, if the woman desires someone to raise a family with she will find slightly more feminine characteristics more attractive (http://bit.ly/YqbYFQ).

There is a lot of research about alpha and beta personalities. Alpha personalities tend to attract more women but beta personalities are perceived as better for long term relationships. Perhaps this is why a lot of girls will date “jerks” if they are attractive, confident, and popular. However, you will often find women marrying men far less attractive than themselves who possess a more caring supportive personality.

An example of this type of attraction I like to use is ice cream flavors. We might say that vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice-cream in the world (29% according to Food Channel, nonscientific survey). However, there are a couple of factors coming into play.

First of all that still means the majority of people don’t favor vanilla (71%). It also could mean that vanilla got enough 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place votes to give it the most overall favor (most sales perhaps) with very few people actually saying “yes that is my absolute favorite ice-cream”.

Attraction is similar. The reason Victoria Secret models are perceived as some of the most attractive women in the world is because they broadly appeal to a large percentage of men (and women) on a purely physical basis. Very few men I know would say that a Victoria Secret model is the absolutely most beautiful woman in the world (or maybe even their top ten). But most would agree she is very attractive. Whereas many men might disagree on whether your current girl friend is highly attractive even if you find her gorgeous.

So the biological physical aspect of attraction is only a part of what creates true attraction. We should keep in mind that the biological aspect is one that we can’t really change. It’s in our genetic code and we shouldn’t see it as good or bad. It simply is who we are. If we hold to the popular psychological theory that most people are shaped 50% by nature, than this biological aspect would account for 50% of what causes us to feel attracted to some else.

Author: Jesse Leake

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16 thoughts on “Is attraction a choice? (Part 2: Biology of Attraction)

  1. I think it also depends on personality type. There is a true saying the opposites attract.I have never found alpha men to be attractive, and that is (and I might be stereotyping) because those alpha males I have met, pay more attention to brawn than intelligence. Ie, they often do not have too great minds, This for me is a turn off. I don’t even like tattoos – at all. Or guy who shave their heads. But I know some beautiful women who love this? Often women want an alpha male, because they want to feel ‘protected’ ‘safe’ ‘secure’ ‘looked after’. There is too much testosterone for me. But I know women who love this type. Everyone is different. I think that the in gay community there are interesting compatibilities for partners.

    1. You make a very good point. But I would suggest that a true alpha male has a lot more than just macho male characteristics. He is intelligent. Is dominant not just with his body but with his personality and his character and his mind. Being an alpha male today requires much more than being the biggest man with the biggest stick like it did in the stone ages.

      1. It might be the language, and we might mean different things by alpha male

        Where I am from, an alpha male, is usually a guy of low economic status, lots of muscles, that works in manual labour types of jobs.

        I appreciate that it might not mean this elsewhere in the world.

  2. With the analogy of ice cream, if people prefer vanilla, would this not be because statistically this is the most available ice cream? You can buy vanilla anywhere. You can often buy it cheaper too. I don’t know if they have them in US, but in UK, we have ice cream men who drive around in vans selling ice cream (have never been to US to know) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_pRm8sos_E

    And the only thing that comes out of Mr Whippy is vanilla!!! there is no other choice. It is not that I like it more, just that there is no other choice.

    This might be a reason why more of this flavour is sold!! 🙂 🙂

  3. Good article. It has caused me to think about what I am attracted to. Being newly single within the last 5 years, I have not thought about what I am attracted to in a man at this point of life. Thankfully I have grown, matured and changed a great deal since the last time I was in this state of singleness. There is a big difference between teenage and middle age desires in a mate.
    What causes me to feel attracted to a guy? Well it is appearance, of course. If I don’t like what I see he doesn’t stand a chance, right? But it is much more than that. It is intellect, personality, ability to be humorous and playful. Is he caring and loving, and not just in a sexual way! I’ll tell you if I go out with a guy and he makes a move on me on the first date, there will not be a second date. I am not an object to be conquered.
    There is so much more I could say here but this is your blog. Perhaps I will write something on mine about the topic in the future.

  4. Interesting thoughts! You logic makes sense and further study would definitely be interesting.
    So for the sake of discussion…what about people attracted to those of their own gender?

    1. There is some interesting research on that now. The research suggests that a gene which would be favorable in a female and generally recessive in a male could become the dominant gene in a male and result in same sex attraction. Or nurture could be dominant in those individuals over nature. But honestly I don’t know. Very little research on my part.

  5. Bonjour! I’m nominating you for the Sunshine award for being such an awesomely inspiring blogger on this post right here:
    http://confessionsofanoldsoul.wordpress.com/
    If you choose to accept it, here is a lil’ bit about the award and the rules: “The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. The recipients of the Sunshine Award are: Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere. The way the award works is this: Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. Answer questions about yourself. Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award!””

  6. You need to be careful using the “vanilla ice cream” analogy – the reasoning from “most popular/broadest appeal” is why the term “vanilla” became adopted by BDSMers/kinky folk to refer to those who do not share our sexual interests/orientations (vanilla people have appropriated the term to mean “bland”, but that’s not the origin). Talking about attraction, choice and “dominant behaviours” (as at least one of your linked articles does) and using language developed by a particular sexual/romantic subculture (one in which Dominance and Submission are key concepts) seems unwise without at least acknowledging them.

  7. Attraction all depends on what I am looking to get out of the relationship. If I am not considering the man as a candidate for a future husband it the father of future children, then I am more willing to accept more “jerk” qualities in a sexier, more masculine man than one that would be a better long-term mate.

    1. Interesting that you say that. There is a lot of research on that very subject. In fact there is one theory that suggest that women want an alpha male to create their children but a beta male to raise them.

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