Last week I came across a fascinating documentary on Catalyst, ABC TV. It was about the Chemistry of Attraction, what attracts us to each other physically, and how many factors appear to operate at a subconscious level.
First Catalyst discussed pheromones. A group of male and female volunteers smelt anonymously numbered T-shirts worn by each other. It was interesting to watch people sniffing the T-shirts, very opinionated about which ones they could ‘cuddle up with’ and which shirts they could say, ‘no thank you’ to. Apparently with pheromones at least, our choice boils down to nature not wanting us to breed with someone too similar. According to Prof Manfred Malinski, women find men with different immunity genes to their own more attractive. Even our choice of perfume has something to do with our ‘immune gene’, and we choose scents that amplify our natural odour. Speed dating together with a pheromone party could certainly save some people kissing a lot of toads to find that handsome prince or princess.
What about choosing a partner by their looks? This is where it got interesting.
As Dr Newby explained, a woman’s face changes shape over the course of her monthly cycle. The higher levels of oestrogen make a woman’s face more feminine when ovulating, therefore more attractive to men. Apparently chins, eyebrows and noses change the most. Who would have thought?
Whilst there are stereotypes of male and female beauty, why do some people seem to have a ‘type’ they find attractive? To quote Dr Newby, one answer is “a little embarrassing.” Imprinting – it appears that some people are attracted to others who faces resemble their parents when they were young. Have a think about who you find attractive, and what your mother/father looked like when you were a baby – busy staring, memorising their faces, forming a deep attachment. You might be interested what you come up with. Thanks for some interesting insights, ABC and Catalyst.
Something the doco didn’t cover was the fact that as many women approach ovulation, they feel an increase in sex drive. Not all women feel this, but it certainly happens to Kat in my novel, Arafura. I think a part of me wants to be a human evolutionary biologist. At the very least, I should have introduced scratch and sniff sample pages in Arafura, like in Avon catalogues. ‘This is what Kat smells like’, or, ‘scratch here for Adam after the fight scene’. Or a recommendation on the front, “Note to women – this book is best read whilst ovulating”.
Catalyst – Series 14 , The Chemistry of Attraction