Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Men and Women Find Most Attractive

As it turns out, the old verities are still hanging in there. Repealing human nature is not as easy as some would have us believe. commissioned a survey to find out what young unmarrieds find most attractive in the opposite sex. Link here.

Happily, the young people responding to the survey were thoroughly judgmental. In general, they gave the most weight to signs of good character and downgraded more superficial qualities. Or so it seems to me.

First on the list, for both men and women is: TEETH.

You heard that right: TEETH.

I’m not sure how they all these young people figured out that dental hygiene was more important than kegel exercises, but, indeed they did. And I am fairly confident that the emphasis on teeth was unrelated to anyone's skill at oral sex.

Why teeth?

Teeth matter more for what they signify than for what they are. Good teeth signal good health and good hygiene.  No one wants to get involved with someone who is sickly and filthy or who doesn’t have the self-discipline to take care of his or her teeth.

For my part I believe that it helps if the teeth look like real teeth. It is probably not a good thing if your teeth look like Chicklets. On the other hand, very few millennials have that much dental work.

This should not be so very surprising. For all I know, it might be another way of saying that the way a person smiles at you is monumentally important.

People who scowl are not attractive. A freely given, open smile tends to be very attractive, not just because it signals good health and hygiene but because it shows friendliness, affection and a good mood. People who refuse to flash an inviting smile are probably depressed.

If the first item was shocking, the second is equally shocking.

Second on the list, for both men and women is: GRAMMAR.

That’s right: GRAMMAR, as in knowing how to put together a coherent and cogent sentence.


Perhaps because good grammar signifies a higher social status. People who are constantly making grammatical mistakes are placing themselves in lower social class.

Perhaps, you need to have seen My Fair Lady to understand this—if you haven’t, you should rent it immediately—but the way you use language speaks volumes, as the saying goes, about which social groups you can reasonably interact with. Chronically bad grammar will also limit your career success, because it will make it that much more difficult to socialize with more successful people.

Apparently, people still judge people according to social status and standing. If someone is embarrassed to be seen in certain social situations with you because you cannot put together a coherent sentence, he will know that you are not a good mating prospect. I would add that good diction is also important. If you slur your speech people are not going to find you to be very sociable.

The emphasis on grammar sounds harsh because, effectively, it is harsh. It is much more difficult to learn good grammar than it is to whiten your teeth or to practice smiling. How many people do you know who are attending adult education courses in grammar? Perhaps they should.

Most of the other items on the list are what you would expect: hair, clothes, nails and shoes. Some that show up near the bottom of the list-- the kind of car you drive and the types of electronic gadgets you use-- are surprising because most young people believe that they are monumentally important.

If I had to add one more item that is not on the list, I would recommend that after you have had your teeth cleaned and learned proper grammar you would do well to spend some time improving your table manners. If do not know how to participate in this most basic of human rituals,  you are not going to be a good relationship prospect, regardless of your sexual prowess.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... looks like teeth and grammar are simple pass-fail deficiency tests to exclude interest, rather than points of attraction. After all, you might as well be homosexual if those are your top standards!

I'm surprised "height" isn't on the women's top-10 list (probably not asked!), or at least not being 6 feet tall was used as an excuse for some of the above average-height girls I knew in my 20's.

David Foster said...

These results seem fishy to me. If grammar is that important to BOTH sexes, then why are so many people so awful at it? Is it credible that someone who themselves habitually used bad grammar would really use it as a criterion for attraction to someone else?

Re "the car they drive," experiments have shown that if you give groups of women 2 photos of the same standing next to an expensive car and the other NOT standing next to an expensive car...the man with the expensive car will be rated as "better looking." Which implies that the attraction to the presumed-expensive-car-owner is happening at the subconscious level, since the guy is *really* no better looking in one photo than in the other.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I'm sure you've noticed, but Susan Walsh at Hooking Up Smart checked out the credentials of the researchers and found them to be reputable.

I don't know how many people are awful at grammar, though I suspect that the numbers are pretty high. How many schools teach it these days, anyway?

This might cause people to value it more, but I also think that grammar is a stand-in for the ability to sustain a conversation.

The experiment is interesting because it measures immediate attractiveness. The study, however, asks about who might be relationship material. Might it be that women choose their mates using criteria that differ from those that excite their irrational attraction centers.