What makes someone sexy? Scientists are just as confused as you are

30 August 2019 - 12:28
What makes someone sexually appealing to another is still very much a mystery.
What makes someone sexually appealing to another is still very much a mystery.
Image: 123RF/Oleksii Hrecheniuk

Sex appeal – some people just seem to have it, others desperately want it and scientists have spent years and goodness knows how much money studying it. The results, as a recent article in The Atlantic Monthly demonstrate, are, unfortunately, not very conclusive and probably won’t help those who don’t have it to magically obtain it any time soon.

A slew of studies have been conducted over the years – mostly investigating physical and other traits of attractiveness, with heterosexual participants, and these have only served to muddy the waters.

While some research suggests factors like facial symmetry and hip-to-waist ratio could be significant factors in the search for the perfect partner, others have focused on traits such as facial scars, beards and the colour clothes worn on a first date.

According to one study, women interviewed found men with facial scars more appealing for short-term relationships than long ones. In a different study, women were shown to find men with beards more appealing for long-term relationships than for short-term ones.

These studies hone in on the idea that what people find attractive is based on what kind of relationship they’re looking for, rather than simply being a question of immediate bunga bunga opportunities.  

Unsurprisingly, there are studies that show women interpret men’s showing of sexual interest as “expressions of friendliness”, while men tend to interpret women’s friendliness as signs of sexual interest – Venus and Mars and so on. Apparently, women tend to be more attracted to men whose interest in them they regard as ambiguous.

When it comes to the sticky issue of dating, it turns out that your chances of wanting to get together with your dinner partner are better if they’re wearing red or black clothes and, according to yet another in a long list of studies, what they order to eat is important.

Research shows woman tend to be more attracted to a prospective partner if they eat spicy food, rather than sweet. Stop the presses – science has proved that the centuries-old ideas that red makes you look better and chillies have aphrodisiac properties might just have substance!

Science has also looked into the idea that someone is more attractive than you initially thought after drinking. However, it’s only one glass of wine that’s needed. One the (countless) studies showed that people who had the equivalent of one glass of wine scored higher on the attraction-o-metre, than those who drank nothing or consumed more than a glass of wine.

All of this is interesting but not helpful to those still searching for a concrete method of increasing their sex appeal. It leaves us back where we started – some have it, some don’t and those who don’t are still trying to get it, whether by cutting their chins, growing their facial hair, wearing red and black, ordering Nando’s extra hot or sipping on just one glass of wine.


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