Sexy Stats: the science of love

Student Living by

Ladies, be coquettish and coy and play hard-to-get. Men, wait three days before calling. From Sex and the City to Seinfeld to Swingers, people today are bombarded by rules as to what to do, how to do it, and when to do it when it comes to dating, that game we all love to hate. But what actually works? Research shows that playing hard-to-get will make you a person who’s hard-to-like. Wait… could it be? Is it possible that people don’t like mixed signals? Shocking.

So take off your lucky underwear-we like it when you go commando, anyway-and lend science your ear. How can it improve your chances for scoring? Ignore those damn Rules and other such hogwash, the Trib, is here to set matters straight.

Braggin’ rights. Guys place more importance on youthfulness and physical attractiveness than their female counterparts when choosing a partner (those shallow bastards!), while girls are more focused on the vocational status, earning potential, kindness, and other emotional appeals of a man (okay, so our interests are piqued by the scent of money but, hey, at least we’re sensitive gold-diggers).

And we’ve caught on to what the opposite sex likes. Men display their “marketable” resources by bragging about their strength, athleticism, and sexual prowess, while women are more apt to display physical cues like wearing make-up and stylin’ threads.

At least you now know what to flaunt.

Pray for good genes. Gals like their arm candy to be, on average, six inches taller than they are, while men prefer women approximately four-and-a-half inches shorter than themselves. Men prefer women with an hourglass figure, as studies show that men are more attracted to those women with a waist-to-hip ratio between 0.6 and 0.7 (thin is so not in. Case in point: Kate Moss has a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.4.). It has also been found that women prefer men with a waist-to-hip ratio of about 0.9, implying a trim waistline.

Cross-cultural studies demonstrate consistency as to what female facial features are deemed attractive to men. It was found that females with larger eyes, a greater distance between eyes, slender noses, narrow faces, small chins, high and expressive eyebrows, large lower lips, high cheek bones, as well as a well-groomed, full head of hair were deemed more attractive. The things those crazy scientists say-as if men don’t like bald women. What will they come up with next?

Men prefer girls with a strong jaw, and both sexes preferred men with more feminine features. Symmetry also plays a huge part in physical attractiveness as both overall physical symmetry and facial symmetry were viewed as appealing to both men and women. Women prefer men with a larger upper body. So yeah, plastic surgery, anyone?

Aunt Flo = Cupid? A study where men were asked to smell T-shirts worn by women at varying stages of their menstrual cycle and rate their odours found that the odours of ovulating women consistently ranked much higher than those who were not. So perhaps it is not a curse, but a blessing instead.

A woman’s body may also undergo minor physical changes during ovulation. For example, soft tissues, such as those found in the ears and breasts, become more symmetrical, and waist-to-hip ratios tend to decline. A woman’s complexion is at its lightest and the skin also becomes aglow during ovulation. This is what is biologically deemed as attractive-think of what women strive to look like when they apply blush or lipstick, or seek breast implants: they are mimicking what they would look like during ovulation.

Who knew? Our monthly visit from our annoying little friend is like a monthly makeover from a helpful little matchmaker.

First impressions matter, so be a copycat. The initial meeting is crucial for relationship bliss-if you make a bad first impression, it takes 11 subsequent good impressions to offset the initial mishap. What’s more, evidence suggests that first impressions can be made subconsciously in as little as seven seconds. After this initial contact, individuals will confirm and establish a positive relationship generally within five minutes of being with another. Now that’s pressure. What’s a blubbering, klutzy, yet oh-so-horny individual to do?

The chameleon effect can work wonders. On your next date, mimic the postures, mannerisms and facial expressions of the object of your desire. Ultimately, mimicry has been found to promote the ease of interactions and increase your likeability. In fact, studies show that it can be predicted whether or not a couple will leave a bar together based on the synchronization of their movements.

Talk less, make bedroom eyes more. Studies show that only seven per cent of what a person takes away from a conversation comes from the words that are spoken, 38 per cent of meaning is derived from the way the words are articulated, while an astonishing 55 per cent of meaning is conveyed in facial expressions. Moreover, it has been found that nonverbal signaling is far more instrumental than other factors, such as physical attractiveness, in getting a man’s attention.

This means that ugly, boring people do still have a chance! Our advice? Don’t talk much, just wink repeatedly while pointing to your crotch region.

But what does it mean? Non-verbal communication can reveal lots about how a date is going. Guys who are interested in a partner touch them to convey care, conviction, sensitivity, and strength. Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to touch people to display property rights, those possessive demons. If a man leans back and touches his hair, it implies that he is not interested.

Women are more adept at decoding these cues as it has been consistently found that men are quite ignorant in reading body language. Does this come as a surprise to anyone?

Girls are also more likely to make the first move in a social environment through subtle movements such as standing near their potential prey. Conversations between men and women generally only begin after a female has acknowledged a man. Evidence suggests that women first display interest through eye contact followed by immediately looking away from their target. Subsequently, they are likely to lower their head slightly and cast another glance towards the individual. Coy. And hot. We approve.

Okay, so we guess these rules are not that much better than standard dating folklore. If you’re going to get plastic surgery just to get that 0.6 waist-to-hip ratio, perfect the first seven seconds of any meeting, and work on blinking at the exact same time as your date, you might as well wait three days before calling. But then again, what do we know.

SOURCES: Buss, D.M. The Evolution of Desires. (2003, Basic Books); Prager, K. The Psychology of Intimacy. (1995, Guildford Press).