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Entries in attractiveness (24)

Monday
Apr072014

Time Flies When Your Partner Is Cute…At Least for a While

Have you ever had a lunch date that just seemed to fly by? Or a coffee date where you were counting the minutes until you could make an excuse and leave? You might guess that conversing with someone attractive can make a difference in whether or not time seems to drag. However, attractiveness may not play the role you expect!

Researchers tested the role of attractiveness in time-perception with a series of experiments.1 In one of the experiments, strangers were asked to converse freely (unscripted) over Skype, an application that allows text, voice, and video chatting over the Internet. For brevity, we’ll focus only on this Skype experiment below.

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Wednesday
Mar052014

The “Cheerleader Effect” (Yes, It Exists)

You gotta love when pop culture inspires scientific research. Motivated by one of my favorite TV shows, How I Met Your Mother, the authors of a recent paper published in Psychological Science1 investigated Barney Stinson’s claim that people appear more attractive when surrounded by others in a group relative to when they are viewed by themselves. He calls this the “Cheerleader Effect,” inspired by the stereotype that cheerleader groups seem very attractive because of how they appear in groups/teams, even though individual cheerleaders are not more attractive than average.

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Thursday
Jan162014

Conquering Contrast Effects: The Strong Survive and the Weak Shall Perish 

Ever catch your partner checking out an attractive stranger on the street? Ever notice all of the good-looking opposite-sex friends your partner has accumulated on Facebook? Such things might seem harmless, but these “beautiful” people may actually make us less appealing to our partners, due to what researchers refer to as contrast effects. Contrast effects occur when something looks better or worse depending on what we compare to it. In this case, you could look less attractive to your partner when compared to someone else that is more attractive, whether that person is a sexy passerby, a good-looking co-worker, or even someone featured in erotic material. (Read more about contrast effects here.) 

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Monday
Nov112013

Curves Ahead: The Science of Female Waist-to-Hip Ratio and Attractiveness  

Semi-renowned armchair relationship expert Sir Mix-a-Lot once said, “So Cosmo says you're fat, well I ain't down with that! 'Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin' …To the beanpole dames in the magazines: You ain't it, Miss Thing!” What Mr. Mix-a-Lot so melodically points out is that women’s attractiveness does not rely on thinness, but rather the kickin’ nature of her curves. In fact, for women there’s a universal formula -- the waist-to-hip ratio -- that contributes to how attractive males find females’ bodies.

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Monday
Nov042013

The Science of the 'Stache: Give It a Grow This Movember

This month is “Movember,” an international movement to raise awareness about men’s health, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. Men participating in “Movember” grow moustaches and raise money to fund cancer education and research.1 Yet, Movember may have an added benefit for relationships: women rate men with a full beard as more masculine, socially mature, dominant, and aggressive than they rate clean-shaven men. However, men with light stubble fare best on ratings of attractiveness and desirability for short-term and long-term relationships.2 Historically, men tend to grow facial hair during years that competition for mates is more intense (for example, moustaches were particularly popular in the early 1900s, based on images in the Illustrated London News),3 suggesting that facial hair fashion trends are attuned to the effect facial hair has on women’s judgments.

Click on the image to supersize it!

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Thursday
Oct242013

Hot Guys and Bad Decisions: Male Attractiveness and Women’s Judgments of Sexual Risk

Do hot guys lead women to make risky sexual choices? To test this, college women rated 40 pictures of college-aged males for attractiveness, willingness to have sex with him with a condom, willingness to have sex without a condom, and his likelihood of having a sexually transmitted infection (STI). When women were willing to have sex with a guy with a condom, they were also willing to have unprotected sex with him. Women were also more willing to have unprotected sex with physically attractive males, but also rated them as more likely to have an STI—a potentially dangerous combination.

Lennon, C. A., & Kenny, D. A., (2013). The role of men’s physical attractiveness in women’s perceptions of sexual risk: Danger or allure? Journal of Health Psychology, 18, 1166-1176. image source: madamenoire.com

Tuesday
Sep102013

Save Your Money to Increase Your Attractiveness 

image source: aiyelpost.com/finance/simple-livingMoney has a funny way of finding its way into close relationships. Previously we've discussed how money makes you a worse parent, how it can make people less sensitive to others, and how men are more likely to go into debt to compete for mates. Research shows that a people view those who save their money as more attractive than those who spend their money. You can read more about how being a saver influences perceptions of things like workout habits over at MarketWatch. 

Monday
Jul012013

Men: Play Guitar to Get a Date?

I was recently talking to a (male) friend from college, reminiscing about how all the guys in the dorms wanted to learn how to play guitar because we thought that it would increase our odds of landing a lady. Is it really true that women find guitar players attractive? Two recent studies have attempted to answer this question.

The first study, conducted in France, enlisted a young male research assistant who was highly attractive.1 He was not aware of the study’s hypotheses. His task was to systematically approach 300 similarly-aged women who were walking alone across a particular walkway and passing him (that is, he was told not to select only women he was attracted to). When a woman walked by, he asked for her phone number, saying that he would like to call her later so that they could go out and get a drink together.

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Friday
Jun072013

Shave It Off! Baldness Boosts Your Manly Image

Bald may or may not be beautiful, but it definitely is manly according to recent research.1 Participants were asked to rate photographs of men who either had a full head of hair or a shaven head (the hair was digitally edited away). The bald versions of men were consistently rated as more dominant than the men with full locks.  The men with shaved scalps were also perceived as taller, older, and stronger, but less attractive, than their full-haired counterparts. Consistent with prior findings, participants rated men with thinning hair least favorably on all attributes.

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Tuesday
May282013

Increasing Your Ability to Get a Date: Dude, It’s Your Car 

image source: autoevolution.comLadies, would a guy’s car influence whether you give him your number? In a recent study, male confederates (guys in cahoots with the researchers) approached over 500 young women who were walking in a city. To test whether a males’ car affected women’s likelihood of sharing their digits, the male confederates waited in one of three cars (high, medium, or low value) before getting out and approaching the women. Men with a high status car were more likely to get a number (23.3%) than men with middle (12.8%) or low status cars (7.8%). Apparently women use the car that a guy drives as a clue to his income, his status, and to whether he is worth dating.

Guéguen, N., & Lamy, L. (2012). Men’s social status and attractiveness: Women’s receptivity to men’s date requests. Swiss Journal of Psychology/Schweizerische Zeitschrift Für Psychologie/Revue Suisse De Psychologie, 71(3), 157-160. doi:10.1024/1421-0185/a000083

Monday
May202013

Underdogs: They’re Hot

People often think that successful people are attractive. But what about their less successful counterparts? Are they destined to be seen as less attractive? In a study involving hypothetical job applicants, those candidates described as being “underdogs” -- i.e., they were unlikely to get a particular job due to unfair circumstances beyond their control (e.g., their application had been misplaced by a secretary) -- were rated as especially physically attractive and desirable to date compared to candidates who were (a) unfairly advantaged (i.e., had a friend pressuring the employer to hire them) or (b) were unlikely to get the job due to their own incompetence (i.e., they failed to follow directions on the job application). That’s right…being an underdog can be hot if your failures are not your own fault.

Michniewicz, K. S., & Vandello, J. A. (in press). The attractive underdog: When disadvantage bolsters attractiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Friday
Apr122013

Here’s the Punchline: The Link between Humor and Hotness 

Chad Michael Murray, the actor from One Tree Hill, once said, “To all the girls out there who think being funny is not sexy, you are wrong!” Not only has a point, but there is some research to back him up. Two guys walk into a bar… and according to research, whomever women consider funnier will also be seen as more attractive and suitable for a long-term relationship.1 Having a funny partner may simply make them more fun to be around, but it is also possible that a good sense of humor indicates that a person has advanced language skills, creativity, abstract thinking, and intelligence.2 Put another way, a quick wit may signal the quality of a potential partner’s genetic make-up, which can lead that person to appear more attractive. Then again, maybe attractive people are more likely to be naturally funny, or are more likely to be perceived by others as funny. Recent research delves deeper into these issues to answer two key questions: Is being funny more attractive for short-term or long-term relationships? Does physical attractiveness influence ratings of funniness?

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Tuesday
Feb052013

Sexy in Red? Not So Fast!

As a diligent reader of Science of Relationships, you’ve read our past articles on how wearing the color red is more than just a fashion choice. For example, you know that men find women more attractive in red because red is seen as an indication of more sexual receptivity. Women also find men who wear red sexually exciting. These findings make it sound like everyone’s date-night wardrobe is set for life – just pick out something red! But anything that easy has to have a catch, right? Before you slip into that new red shirt or dress for your next hot date, you might want to keep reading...

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Monday
Nov192012

Pondering the “What If” Relationship

About 10 years ago I had a short-lived, whirlwind romance with a man who was taking a long break from a complicated relationship with another woman. Once things got emotionally intimate with me, he bolted back to her and they eventually married. I was devastated. Despite my initial grief, we remain a presence in each other’s lives. Although we have transitioned to being only friends, there has always been a flirtatious quality to our interactions. I refer to him as The Question Mark because I have always had the “what if” question haunting me about him. What if he had been more available when we first started dating? What if our career paths were not so different? What would happen if we lived in the same city today, now that we are both single again?

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Sunday
Nov182012

Men: Want a Date? Take a Break from Shaving this Movember

This month is “Movember,” an international movement to raise awareness about men’s health, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. Men participating in “Movember” grow moustaches and raise money to fund cancer education and research.1 Yet, Movember may have an added benefit for relationships: women rate men with a full beard as more masculine, socially mature, dominant, and aggressive than they rate clean-shaven men. However, men with light stubble fare best on ratings of attractiveness and desirability for short-term and long-term relationships.2 Historically, men tend to grow facial hair during years that competition for mates is more intense (for example, moustaches were particularly popular in the early 1900s, based on images in the Illustrated London News),3 suggesting that facial hair fashion trends are attuned to the effect facial hair has on women’s judgments.

Click on the image to supersize it!

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Tuesday
Jul242012

Hot Women Make Men Dumb and Dumber

Most of us have experienced a gut-cringing moment in which we made an embarrassing comment or did something idiotic in front of a person we were trying to impress. Even smart guys are not immune to this; look at how The Big Bang Theory’s Leonard Hofstadter’s staggering IQ of 170+ plummets whenever he sees Penny. Unfortunately, guys, it looks like this cognitive decline in the presence of the opposite sex affects only those in the male population.

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Friday
Jul202012

The Contrast Effect and Beautiful Girls: There is Harm in Only Looking!

It’s summer again, and that means warm weather, beach vacations, and the dreaded bathing suit! Growing up on the coast, I figured I’d eventually get used to the summertime show-and-tell of swimsuit season. Unfortunately, I was wrong. 

Just recently, I was at the beach with my family and we were looking for a place to plant our chairs. One male member quickly picked the perfect spot.  It did not occur to me until I sat down that what made this such a prime location was its proximity to some college-aged, scantily-clad, bathing beauties. It would have been awesome if I had not noticed, or if I had just been happy for those young girls and resisted the urge to compare myself. Regrettably, that was not the case. 

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Saturday
Jul142012

Lying About Physical Attractiveness

I attended an interesting talk yesterday by Dr. Edward Lemay and his colleagues about how people use deception in their relationships. He wanted to know what motivates people to lie when their girlfriend or boyfriend asks how they look. For example, if you don’t think they look very physically attractive, do you tell the truth?

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Thursday
May172012

Hot Dads, Part Deux

Because we’re geeks, we can’t stop thinking about our earlier write-up of the iVillage.com Hot Dads contest. Most of the features we highlighted this past Monday suggest that a lot of what likely makes a dad hot are the same characteristics that make a man hot. But as any good psychologist will tell you, context matters. And we’re not talking about just judging hotness of men in general, we’re talking about judging hotness in dads. And part of what should make a dad hot is his ability to fulfill his role as father (at least we hope it matters!). So thinking more about the ‘dad’ context led us to suspect several other cues or features should (or could) also come into play when evaluating the future winner of iVillage.com’s Hot Dads Contest.

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Sunday
May132012

The Anatomy of a Hot Dad

When we first opened the e-mail from iVillage.com, with “2nd Annual Hot Dads Contest” in the subject line, we (as fathers) couldn’t help but be flattered. Reality quickly kicked in, however, when we read the actual message and learned that iVillage was hoping that ScienceOfRelationships.com could spread the word about their Hot Dads contest (still flattering, but not quite so ego-boosting). After dusting off our egos, we did what any good relationship scientist would do: we began to wonder what makes a “Hot Dad” hot? In other words, when iVillage.com readers comb through the hundreds of photos of men on the site, how are they judging relative dad-hotness?

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