What are the characteristics that make an individual look attractive in the eyes of representatives of the opposite sex? New studies suggest that both women and men are driven by their primordial instincts while searching for partners. A male of the peafowl draws attention of a female by displaying its bright and shining tail feathers spread in a fan. The courtship behavior of a peacock is in line with nature’s fine strategy. The peacock sends a clear signal about its health, fertility and strength by showing off the beauty and symmetry of its magnificent tail. Charles Darwin called the method “natural selection.” The above genetic programming is still in active use today. New studies indicate that an individual’s evolutionary inheritance plays an important role when it comes to mating strategies. Guided by the original instincts, an individual will always search for the most attractive partner endowed with the best set of genes.
In the course of evolution men learned to discern women’s biological capabilities by taking note of a proportional relation between the hips and the waist. Ideally, the hips-to-waist ratio should constitute 1:0.7 e.g. the case of Jennifer Lopez. The value stays constant regardless of fashion trends and variable concepts of a perfect body. Women have been aware of men’s preferences from time immemorial. A beautiful face (pictures) is always a stimulus.
A woman’s beauty lies in her fertility
Women prefer to marry women aged 24.8 years on an average; women are thought to reach the peak of fertility at the age. Following his research into the subject, the biologist David Bass at the University of Texas in Austin concluded that men all over the world favored women who were 3.5 years younger on an average. Bass, a convinced Darwinist, believes that the difference stems from prehistoric time. Back then, men would show the best results in hunting at approximately 30 years of age while women’s fertility would begin to decline after 25.
Dr. Ian Penton-Voak and Dr. Dave Perrett, two British psychologists at the University of St. Andrews, carried out a research to unravel the mystery of beauty. They set a computer a task of generating thousands of female faces to be evaluated by men involved in the experiment. The men were supposed to use computer graphic techniques for the purpose of building a female face deemed perfect by them.
The men had two ways to go while building a perfect female face on their computers: they could either make facial features look more feminine (the influence of estrogen) or enhance masculinity of the features (the influence of testosterone). The results of the study shows that men’s preferences for female faces increased as the latter started to look more feminine e.g. a smooth line of the jaw; full sensual lips; high cheekbones, large eyes and fine brows. Once no restrictions on the use of computer graphics were imposed, the men started to “raise up” the level of estrogen to the point of producing the spit and image of Nicole Kidman (pictures) or Lara Croft in terms of facial characteristics. Taking into account the results of the study, evolutionary biologists arrive at the following conclusion: the above sexual characteristics depend on the level of production of a major female sex hormone i.e. estrogen during puberty.
Symmetry is beautiful
The British researchers found out that men showed preference for symmetry in average female faces. Further studies provided enough evidence to prove that women displaying conspicuous feminine characteristics were apparently considered as more beautiful. In view of the above, beauty should not be seen as a waste of nature but rather a “biological ornament” that signals invaluable information to a potential mate.
What is the situation with regard to facial attractiveness in men? Male facial features are dependent on testosterone, a male sex hormone. Testosterone stimulates the growth of bone tissue. As a result, the jaws become angular; a chin looks pronounced; the eyes grew smaller as the superciliary ridges become larger. The eyebrows become bushy and the lips grow thin. Therefore, a male “testosterone” face resembling that of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (working out nude) indicates a good set of genes.
Good news for Brad Pitt look-alikes
There is some good news for the guys who do not posses prominently masculine facial characteristics. On the strength of their research, the British psychologists came to the conclusion that women had a greater preference for sexually dimorphic characteristics in men’s faces e.g. a face that looks like that of Brad Pitt.
Dr. Perrett believes intuitive self-defense is a key factor in the above case. According to evidence based on scientific findings, men with a high level of testosterone tend to play around more frequently than those with more feminine facial features. Besides, “testosterone” studs are not so good at performing father’s duties.
However, female preferences for male traits changes cyclically. A woman is most likely to opt for a genetically successful macho when the ovum stands a particularly good chance of being fertilized.
Translated by Guerman Grachev