The Interesting Science Behind Physical Attraction

The Interesting Science Behind Physical Attraction

Your body is playing cupid for you more than you realize.
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Think of the person you’re most attracted to. It could be your girlfriend or boyfriend, a crush you’ve only met a couple times, or one of your friends. What is it that pulls you to them? Is it their hair? Smile? Voice? Smell? Or a combination of all of the above? What if I told you that the reason you’re attracted to someone is actually all a part of a mating game that you’re completely unaware of? You probably think everything that attracts you to a person is surface level or just “your type," but in actuality, your body chemistry is playing matchmaker more than you realize, and all for the purpose of reproducing.

All of your senses are involved in attraction more than you might think. Three of the most prominent and responsible ones are sight, smell, and hearing. Obviously, looks play a huge role in attraction. Although the definition of beauty varies among cultures, there are some characteristics that scientifically, everyone is more or less drawn to. Traits such as long hair and smooth skin are universally desired because they are signs of good reproductive fitness. They broadcast that the person is healthy, youthful, and fertile. Although I can’t scientifically prove that blondes have more fun, research has shown that blonde hair is a sign of youth and therefore indicates greater reproductive value. Blonde hair darkens with age, so the lighter one’s hair is, the younger your body perceives that person to be.

Also, your sense of smell is incredibly important. No one wants to be around someone who smells terrible, much less get physical with them. But your nose picks up on physical or genetic information much more complex than the perfume or cologne your partner is wearing. In a study done at the University of Texas at Austin, men smelled t-shirts worn by women in different stages of their ovulation cycles and were asked to rate the smell of each one. The t-shirts worn by women in their most fertile stage of their menstrual cycle were ranked the “sexiest” smelling of them all, which makes sense considering fertility is a high priority in the mating process. Women’s noses, however, are acutely tuned to pick up on MHC molecules, or major histocompatibility complex molecules. These are basically disease-fighters in your DNA. In this case, “opposites attract” applies. Women will want men that have different MHC molecules than them, so that their offspring will be immune to a greater variety of viruses and bacteria. For example, if I am immune to disease A and my partner is immune to disease B, I will be more attracted to his scent than that of someone also immune to disease A because I want my child to be immune to both diseases, not just one.

People’s voices also have an effect on attraction. Typically, men prefer women with higher pitched, breathy voices, indicative of femininity and fertility, while women like men with deep voices, showing masculinity and the ability to raise a family. Ariana Grande is a good example of someone with a high pitched voice, and Josh Turner or Chris Hemsworth are good examples of men with low voices. Ladies, if you’ve never heard Chris Hemsworth speak, watch a movie or interview of his and you’ll know what I’m talking about…but the British accent doesn’t hurt him either.

Once the match has been made, hormones come into play. When you’re into someone, your body releases a certain group of neurotransmitters called monoamines to encourage you to continue pursuing that person. These three are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Dopamine, one of the main “pleasure hormones”, is released throughout the body. Its functions have to do with motivation and rewards, and it is responsible for our desire to acquire something, whether it’s food, drugs, an achievement, or sex. These hormones incite feelings of intense energy, bliss, and exhilaration. Dopamine has the exact same effect on the body that cocaine does, and you can easily become addicted to it. (so yes, love is indeed a drug.)

Norepinephrine creates the same feelings that adrenaline does; it’s your fight or flight instinct. It causes you to be more alert, energetic, and focused on the task at hand. If you’re talking to the person you’re attracted to, it helps you to say the right things and pay attention to what the person is saying, so that the end game will work out in your favor and the attraction will be mutual. Norepinephrine levels increase during the first kiss as well; you probably remember your first kiss with someone pretty vividly, right? This is because this hormone increases your ability to remember the moment, as the fight or flight instinct prepares your body for more, sending signals throughout your brain that something exciting is happening.

Serotonin is also released. Serotonin is the natural chemical that makes you happy, and it affects things like mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and sexual desire. Low serotonin levels can cause depression and decrease libido. It is one of love’s most important chemicals and can actually make us temporarily insane. So to all the crazy girlfriends out there: just blame it on your serotonin levels and thank me later.

Now that you know a little about how your senses and hormones are involved in attraction, you can appreciate all the different ways your body is playing cupid for you the next time you set eyes on that beautiful stranger!

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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5 Tips To Help You Feel Better If You're Sick

A few helpful tips if there's a bug going around.

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Not to brag, but I don't get sick very often, maybe once a year. When I do find myself a little under the weather, there's a few things I like to do for a faster recovery. I have no idea if any of these are 100% accurate, but I'd like to think they do. None of these will immediately make you feel better, but they'll help quicken the process.

Drink lots of water.

This one is a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do sometimes. I know when I'm sick, I definitely don't think about it. Water can help flush toxins out of your body, makes you hydrated, and can help you feel more awake and energized! If you're not a huge water drinker like I am, Tea also helps.

Stay home.

If you're sick, it's honestly better if you just take a day off and focus on feeling better. If you're worried about going to school or work, it's better that you don't spread anything. Let me just say, I'm fairly certain the last time I caught something was because someone behind me in a class was coughing through the entire lecture.

Rest.

This one goes with the last point, but sleeping will help your immune system fight off any infections. It's good to take some time off and get any extra sleep you can.

Clean everything.

I like to wash all of my clothes and bed sheet, because they're what I wear and touch the most, especially my pillow cases. This will help get rid of some germs and stop them from spreading. It's also good to disinfect anything you touch often, like doorknobs and table surfaces.

Take medicine.

This one also sounds like a no brainer, but seriously if you expect to feel better soon you should be taking some sort of medicine. At the very least, it'll help with your symptoms, so you're not couching or sneezing every couple minutes.

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