The Science Of Sexual Attraction

The end result of most interactions across the gender divide is plain and simple sex. Sexual intercourse is the major driving force for our and most other species on the planet. The ability to pass on your genes to the next generation is the chief initiative to have sex. Humanity has the added bonus of getting pleasure out of it. Sexual attraction isn’t only limited to a handful of features, however. Across the spectrum there are a number of things that affect whether a human being is able to be sexually aroused. Evolutionarily, these things lead to a much better suited human organism. According to Helen E. Fisher,

“During the evolution of the genus Homo, these emotion systems became increasingly independent of one another, a phenomenon that contributes to human mating flexibility and the wide range of contemporary human mating and reproductive strategies.”

Let’s look at how sexual attraction across the gender divide can be scientifically determined.

Evaluative Mechanisms

Donald Symons states,

“Men differ in ‘mate value’. In reproductive terms, they are not equally valuable to women as mates.”

From Symons’ statements, and the corresponding experimentation to prove or disprove his hypothesis, it was found that women tend to put more stock in men who have a high ‘mate value’ on their arbitrary scale. Each woman’s criteria for her scale would be different based on what she sees as desirable. Evolutionarily, this would have helped women choose mates that are better suited for life on the whole rather than simply the biggest, strongest and most brutish beast available, as is the case with most of the rest of the animal kingdom. Conversely, in the male, we find that the focus is less upon what he feels and more upon what he sees. Thus the male of the human species is more of a visually stimulated individual and as such tends to lead evolution in selection of more attractive members to procreate with and pass on these genes to the next generation. Both male and female of the species tend to lean towards choosing a mate that fulfills pre-determined criteria based on what they see as valuable in a mate.


The scent of an individual to a member of the opposite gender carries with it a lot of potential as far as mating goes. Grammar et al. have noted that,

“Several studies indicate that humans indeed seem to use olfactory communication and are even able to produce and perceive certain pheromones; recent studies have found that pheromones may play an important role in the behavioral and reproduction biology of humans.”

Pheromones make up a major part of determining the viability of a mate on a subconscious level. Recent evidence has suggested that they along with other more visible stimuli may be a driving force as to whether mating occurs or not. Research into this area is ongoing, but at current the results suggest that pheromones can tilt the balance in your favor when it comes to sexual attractiveness.

As the scientific community discovers more, we will get closer to an understanding of human sexual interaction on a fundamental level. We have certainly come a long way from Masters and Johnson in the 1960’s. What we know today is just the tip of the iceberg however. There is a lot more to learn and since human sexuality is a dynamic field of research it is likely that as we learn something the paradigm would shift meaning we would have to research it all over again. The malleable nature of human sexual interaction ensures that it is not an easy beast to deal with but one that would be invaluable to the whole of human understanding.

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