(Telegraph) The science of sexiness: why some people are just more attractive
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 7:30PM BST 08 Apr 2015
Face shape, body ratio, hair colour and smell are all linked to attraction
But there are other biological and evolutionary triggers which are constantly drawing us to certain individuals, even if we don’t realise it is happening. Scientists in Geneva discovered that determining whether we are attracted to someone is one of the most complex tasks that the brain undertakes. Here are the scientific secrets of attraction:
Charles Darwin once wrote: “It is certainly not true that there is in the mind of man any universal standards of beauty with respect to the human body.”
However recent research suggests that there are universal agreements about beauty which hold true across all cultures and even throughout the animal kingdom.
Probably the most important is facial symmetry. Having a face which is equal on both sides is a biological advert which tells prospective partners that good genes will be found in this body.
Lopsidedness is thought to reflect how development in the womb has been derailed by general poor health, bad DNA, alcohol or tobacco use.
Facial symmetry is also linked to agreeableness, extraversion and conscientiousness, so good looking people generally find it easier to make friends and hold down jobs.
It is why so many people are choosing plastic surgery to straighten noses, and even-up lopsided grins. However, biologically, they are cheating their partners, as they will still pass on their wonky genes no matter what they look like from the outside.
And the importance of symmetry does not stop at facial features.
Studies have also shown that women partnered to men with symmetrical bodies have the most orgasms, and those with symmetrical breasts are more fertile than those less evenly endowed.
Even female swallows prefer males with symmetrical tail feathers as they hunt for superior genetic quality and developmental stability.
While many women might be looking for the tell-tale signs of a wedding ring, research suggests men’s hands can reveal a whole lot more.
In recent years scientists have discovered that there is an intriguing link between finger length and the levels of testosterone that a man was exposed to while still in the womb.
The longer the ring finger is in comparison with the index finger, the more testosterone was present.
That’s important because high levels of testosterone are linked to high sperm counts, increased fertility, good cardiovascular health and better genes. People with longer ring fingers are also likely to have symmetrical faces.
But before you start looking for men with extraordinarily long ring fingers, bear in mind that Oxford University discovered that they are likely to be more promiscuous. In contrast those whose fingers are a similar length are more likely to seek long-term relationships and stay faithful.
This one stumped even Darwin, who tried to discover why gentlemen prefer blondes, and eventually gave up, after finding there was no overall preference for the fairer sex.
The blonde hair and blue eye combination found in Caucasions is thought to have evolved among northern European tribes around 11,000 years ago.
For tribes who were venturing ever further north with the retreating ice sheets, being blonde would have bestowed an evolutionary advantage. The loss of pigmentation in the skin allows deeper penetration of ultraviolet light needed to synthesise vitamins which were essential for good health. So blondes were more likely to be healthier and live longer.
Some archaeologists suggest that it was a time of great rivalry when men were often killed and women had to compete fiercely for partners. It is thought that Palaeolithic hunters chose blondes because they stood out from their rivals and were more likely to be healthy.
Many women who are blonde go darker as they age, so blonde hair is also viewed as an indicator of youth, and sexual vitality.
And, intriguingly, Caucasian blondes usually have slightly higher oestrogen levels than brunettes and are likely to exhibit finer infantile facial features such as a smaller nose, smaller jaw, pointed chin, narrow shoulders, smooth skin and less body hair.
However a recent study which attempted to determine the most beautiful woman in the world picked a brunette. And a 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, found that brunettes are generally considered more attractive.