Attraction isn’t just looks. There are tens of ways that we could try and categorise what makes people attractive to us. In fact, I’ve written a bunch of articles here at The Dirt Psychology on some of these (check out the category ‘attraction’). Today, I want to talk about some of the more random (and far-fetched) ones. Quite literally, these are things that will make you like people that are pretty much independent of who they are, what they look like, or how black their cold, cold heart is.
The colour red
Let’s start with colours. Do colours turn you on? I wouldn’t think so. Maybe if you were a Synesthete and someone you met had a voice that dripped gold (seriously, that sort of happens for those with Synesthesia, check that link out). But outside of those delightfully odd people, one might think that colours had very little to do with how much you wanted to get busy with someone. You’d be wrong, of course. Quite a few scientists from various universities have pretty conclusively found that wearing red will make you more attractive to men and women across a bunch of cultures. Why? Well, we’re not sure. People love to speculate from the evolutionary perspective – we look at animals, see monkeys flaunting big red butts to tell each other they’re in heat and it seems to click, or we see that lips kind of look like a vagina and since lips also get red and swell when we’re turned on, it seems likely. So maybe red indicates fertility to our primitive brains. Or, maybe it’s to do with the fact that red is associated with aggression. Whatever the reason, red makes me like you more regardless of how I might have felt before and that gives me an excuse to refurbish my wardrobe.
The taste in a kiss
Moving on. You know how everyone has a scent that’s unique to them? Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes it’s neutral, sometimes it’s gross. I’ll tell you what’s grosser. Thinking about how everyone’s saliva has a different scent. Have you ever wondered why we like to kiss? Well, some scientists believe that we kiss in part because major histocompatibility complex, a bunch of chromosomes present in our personal smell and our saliva, are used to determine how attractive we find our partner. This is because to have awesome babies, we have to give them the best chance at survival and by tasting each other’s chromosomes we can make sure we’re making sure to get a good mix. In particular, major histocompatibility complex is involved in our immune system and by making sure I have one batch and you have another our kid is going to have a great spread and hence a great immune system. So there you go. Every time you’re kissing, you’re tasting your partner and weighing up how good your babies will be. You’re more grown up than you thought!
Alright, now you’re all decked out in red, ready to make some big decisions with your next kiss, so why don’t I tell you where to take your next date. I’ve talked before about an evolutionary approach towards sexual arousal. Basically, we can be strongly influenced on a very primal level by very instinctive drives. In fact, that’s what this article is about. And although there are plenty of social and emotional factors that feed into our arousal, it’s important to consider the basics. One unusual thing about our instincts is that they can be easily tricked. Specifically, our brains can be tricked into thinking we have the hots for someone because our body is going through something that seems similar. If our heart rate increases, our palms start sweating, our pupils dilate and so on, our brain might think it’s because we’re sitting next to that awesome tasting date we’re sitting next to. What we’ve done is activated our autonomous nervous system; the bad boy who kicks in for both our sexual arousal and our fight or flight reflex. Funnily enough, fear and exercise elicit a pretty similar response as those goofy butterflies do in our bodies and our brain sometimes can’t differentiate between them (hence the versatility of the word ‘arousal’) and according to one theory, our brain just tacks a likely emotional justification onto our jitters after they’ve begun. The link between fear and attraction has been displayed too; young men who are asked to rate a woman’s attractiveness during a fear inducing event will rate much higher than those in less unstable surrounds.
How do we use them?
Well, this article is more for fun than application. But it is useful to consider just how much of what makes us like people is environmental in nature, and thus outside of our control. It’s not always possible to know all of what makes us like someone, and I’m not so sure it’s necessary to. But it can’t hurt to know what you’re in for as a pliable human being. But if you want to try and use it;
- if you’re a guy, get a light red shirt or a bold red tie and if you’re a girl, get a killer red dress. Bring them out on special occasions and see just how much of a difference it makes;
- watch how often your eye is drawn to others in red. See how people compliment each other when the dominant theme of their clothing is red – it happens more often than you might expect;
- as for kissing, you might try and consider whether that last kiss was bad because it was sloppy or if it had some undefinable character that turned you off – you might just not be genetically diverse enough; and
- for the arousal thing… well, these kind of things pop up in a clinical environment and won’t be nearly as obvious when they aren’t clinically measured, plus you run the risk of becoming creepy when you start trying to manipulate stuff like this but there’s no harm in taking someone you’re really into to a scary movie and watching their eyes sparkle at your bravery afterwards (unless you’re like me and scary movies turn you into a ball of whimpering and cringing)
So, there you go. Three more things to add to your arsenal (although, realistically you’re going to have a hard time changing us how your chromosomes taste). Just please, be careful. I hear dressing up like the devil doesn’t always end well on a first date, and if you scare your date so much they cry (and happen to be a woman), it can actually kill that sexy buzz you have going entirely.
Attraction is a complicated thing. Sometimes it’s easier when people put it in perspective. And make sure you check out that that other theory about why our fear gets turned into arousal, here. Giving you the dirt on your search for understanding, psychological freedom and ‘the good life’ at The Dirt Psychology.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Tom Angelo (Flickr)