While it is true that tastes vary, much of what we find sexually attractive is dictated by human biology and evolutionary psychology.
Thankfully, scientists have studied the question quite extensively. Who knew that the laws of physical attraction and body language could be so complex?
Here we discuss six physical traits that scientists have found make women more attractive to heterosexual men.
Big Butts… Or Curved Spines?
What exactly do men look for in a woman’s behind? Most would agree that it’s a combination of curvature and proportion.
Yet according to a new study by Psychology researchers at Turkey’s Bilkent University, there’s more to it than that: the angle of the spine may be more important than the size of the rear end alone.
The researchers showed a group of men three pictures of women with butts that were equally large but for different reasons: spine curvature, excess fat and excess muscle. The woman with the curved spine came out first.
“Men who think they like big bottoms may actually be more into spines,” says Dr. David Lewis. “Men may be directing their attention to the butt and obtaining information about women’s spines, even if they are unaware that that is what their minds are doing.”
This, the researchers hypothesize, is because men are programmed to associate big butts and curved spines with extensive procreation and increased activity during pregnancy.
Eyes: Windows to the Soul
Pity the man who has never experienced the feeling of being “lost in a woman’s eyes,” an overwhelming sensation that ignites the heart and fills one with ardor.
So what is it about the eyes that creates this effect? While color is surely important, it gets more credit than it deserves. Many times it’s the story that is told by a woman’s eyes that draws men in first. You can learn a lot about someone just by making eye contact with them.
In fact, a recent survey found that 70 percent of the 1,000 men interviewed agreed that a woman’s eyes are the first thing they notice about her, followed by her smile and her breasts.
Breasts: A Shared Pleasure
Interestingly, a man’s affinity for breasts may have something to do with their ability to stimulate sexual arousal in a woman.
According to neuroscientist Larry Young and journalist Brian Alexander, 82 percent of women are turned on by some sort of breast stimulation, which in turn causes a release of oxytocin in a woman’s brain, drawing a woman to feel a closer bond to a man.
And while many men are enthralled by large breasts, others prefer a fit figure with modest breasts that work with a woman’s overall proportions. Recent studies also suggest that bigger isn’t always better — in some cases, shape matters just as much as size.
Size doesn’t matter — shape is the universal key to breast beauty.
Drs. Branford and Mallucci
A 2012 study co-signed by London, UK based plastic surgeons Dr. Olivier Branford and Dr. Patrick Malluci, titled “Population Analysis of the Perfect Breast: A Morphometric Analysis” concluded that perfect breasts are pert and natural in appearance, with nipples that are slightly above the middle of the vertical height of the breast, pointing gently upwards. Attractive natural breasts are fuller in their lower half. In short, size doesn’t matter — shape is the universal key to breast beauty.
How does a man’s specific interest in feet, pantyhose or high heels get formed?
According to Psychology Today, it all comes down to something called cue theory: “During a man’s critical period of sexual desire formation, his innate foot cue makes him more likely to pay attention to feet and makes him more receptive to foot-related stimuli. If through circumstance or culture he is then exposed to a strong foot-related experience—a woman sticking her foot near or on a five year-old’s face or watching your first girlfriend slowly unroll her black stockings—then the foot-related details of the experience are more likely to get imprinted.”
It has also been noted that the brain areas associated with genitalia and feet are adjacent to each other in the brain’s “body image map,” which is the brain’s map of the body.
Others have suggested different reasons, such as Freud, who highlighted the resemblance between feet and penises.
That Hourglass Figure
There is something innately sexy and feminine about a woman with curvaceous hips. But hips aren’t sexy on their own — they are attractive in relation to other parts of the body, specifically the waist.
Science offers an interesting explanation for this. Apparently, men are hard-wired to go after women that present outwards signs of fertility.
According to evolutionary psychologist Gordon G. Gallup Jr., “the reason narrow waists and broad hips are so prized — the reason males rate these as being attractive, even though they don’t have any insight into why they do — is twofold. If a woman has a narrow waist, she’s not pregnant. And if she has broad hips it means that the underlying skeletal morphology is probably such that she’d be able to have a relatively unencumbered childbirth.”
Legs for Miles
Men typically like long legs. In fact, studies have shown that men prefer women with longer than average legs, and also favor women who have a higher leg length to body ratio.
According to Del Mar, California psychologist Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., men perceive legs as more suggestive, sensual, and seductive than breasts and behinds, which are more “in your face” sexual.
“In brief, a woman’s legs can at once please . . . and tease,” says Seltzer. “And while the partial display, or exposure, of a woman’s breasts or butt ‘function’ more obviously in this seductive manner, it’s undeniable that for many men a pair of shapely legs alone have the power to effect this enthralled response.”