Brace yourselves, ladies. A new Business Insider video gives us the science behind what makes women attractive to men. The video comes as the counterpart to BI's "6 Scientifically Proven Things Men Can Do To Be More Attractive", and a comparison of the two reveals the significant divide between our gender preferences as men and women. Of course, what it mostly boils down to is that women prioritize more masculine qualities in their mate, while men prioritize more feminine ones.
It all dates back to our caveman days when attraction was highly linked to reproduction. The video, for instance, cites the research of Dr. Midge Wilson at DePaul University, who developed a term called the "reproductive fitness assessment" to scientifically explain why a man might "check out" a woman. It appears, then, that men are biologically hardwired to prefer specific traits that connote reproductive health, such as wider hips, while women often look for physical strength as an indication of a man's ability to provide and protect.
But this issue is far from black and white. In fact, there's a strong dissenting opinion to the idea that extremes of masculinity and femininity represent sexual attractiveness. A recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that these "Western" perceptions of attraction may only apply in urban settings. Still, many scientists aren't quite ready to abandon the idea that men and women are constantly on the lookout for reproductive advantages. But, as always, the science surrounding this notion is constantly evolving. In fact, a University of Minnesota study released earlier this year concluded that women are more interested in masculine men during ovulation.
Whatever the truth may be, it's clear that there's a strong case for a link between attraction and norms of masculinity and femininity. So, in that spirit, here are three items that (allegedly) make women more attractive to men, and you can head over to Business Insider for three more:
1. High-Pitched Voice
This information comes from researchers at the University College London, who contend that a higher-pitched voice signifies youth and a smaller body (which, unfortunately, is still the biological ideal).
Unfortunately, this one calls to mind the recent cat calling video where men on the street keep telling the woman to 'smile'. It's interesting, however, to consider the science behind what makes smiling attractive. Researchers at the University of British Colombia tell Business Insider that "the whiter the teeth, the better." On the other hand, they contend that women prefer men with straight faces.
3. Less Makeup
Once more, it's very possible that these stereotypically feminine qualities don't have a strong bearing on our sexual desirability. For now, therefore, I'd encourage woman to take these with "tips" a grain of salt. Women should also try to remember that, although attraction is biological, there's also the possibility that it has been socially conditioned. After all, most thin women don't have the hip size of an ideal reproductive mate, and yet they still shape our modern beauty standards. Most importantly, attraction is also relative, and what interests one man might not necessarily interest another. What matters, then, is that you feel comfortable in your own skin, regardless of what science or society may tell you.
For more information about the relationship between attraction and evolutionary advantage, I'd recommend checking out both The Female Brain and the The Main Brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine. Both books offer a fascinating explanation for our hormonal impulses and instincts of attraction.
Images: Alexandra Rios/Flickr