The Magic of Your Smile

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TBR’s Bianca Delfini discusses: “The power of attraction”

You know it the moment you feel it – that surge of emotions when someone catches your eye and you find yourself drawn irresistibly towards them. Your heart races, you feel sweaty, and it becomes harder to string sentences together because your head is buzzing with feel-good chemicals. Those initial feelings you experience for someone you find attractive can really knock you off your feet, even when the attraction seems inexplicable and non-sensical.

The reality is that attraction is not random. Science provides some explanations for why we feel the way we do. There is much more at play than you might think; attraction proves a complex and somewhat mysterious biological process.

Something in the air tonight



Pheromones are chemical substances produced and released into the environment by animals to trigger specific behaviours in animals of the same species. Often secreted as a way of communicating sexual interest to potential mates, pheromones can be detected through an animal’s sense of smell.

Many fragrance companies have tried for years to capitalise on the idea that pheromones could be used by humans to attract a partner. Although the concept of sexual attraction through scent has long been a topic of intense debate and study, there remains little evidence to suggest that human pheromones work or even exist [1].

That being said, researchers have found a correlation between human body odour and attraction. In one famous study carried out in 1995, it was discovered that women are more attracted to the scent of men with dissimilar genes [2]. This is associated with the notion that genetic diversity is beneficial for producing more disease-resistant offspring.

A more recent study has also revealed that women who are at the peak of fertility during their menstrual cycle smell more attractive to men [3]. So, perhaps it’s unsurprising that some people might follow their noses when it comes to choosing a mate.

Phonetic convergence

It seems we also gauge attractiveness based on someone’s voice. Studies show that women perceive men with lower-pitched voices as muscular and, therefore, more attractive [4]. This is the opposite for men, who prefer women with higher-pitched voices, which is a perceived indicator of youth – a highly appealing trait to some men [5].

From George Clooney, Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth, to Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, and Reese Witherspoon, many celebrities whom we consider highly attractive are instantly recognisable from the pitch of their voice.

Interesting fact, people alter the way they speak to sound similar to someone they are interested in, often without realising it. This is called phonetic convergence. This similarity may be in speech rate, voice pitch, intonation patterns used, or even in the way individual words or sounds are produced.

One proposed explanation of phonetic convergence – the similarity attraction hypothesis – is that people try to resemble those they are attracted to in order to maximise the chances that their potential love interest will also find them attractive [6,7]. Quite how this fits with the previously cited dissimilar genes hypothesis escapes me?

The shadow of your smile

Whether we like it or not, most of us determine how attractive someone is due to the way they look. Although the definition of beauty differs from culture to culture, there are some characteristics that are universally appealing. For instance, facial symmetry is used subconsciously for rating attractiveness, as it is believed to indicate good overall health in an individual [8,9].

Even the way someone chooses to dress or wear their hair influences how they are perceived by others. In one study, women with longer hair were judged by male participants as healthier and more attractive [10]. A smile, however, reigns supreme as one of the most important physical features.

Smiling enhances how good-looking someone is, but those with damaged or missing teeth may feel self-conscious about their smile and avoid showing it off as a result [11]. Fortunately, dental implant treatment can be beneficial for patients by effectively restoring dental function and aesthetics.

Attraction is the foundation for building long-lasting relationships. Science shows us that our instincts and preferences ultimately give us the push we need to act on what we feel. Now that you know a little more about the ways your senses influence attraction, perhaps you will also appreciate the different ways in which your body is playing cupid the next time you set your sights on a beautiful stranger.

Author

Bianca Delfini is the International Sales Manager for TBR. She says: “Once placed, TBR’s Z1 implant is indistinguishable from the natural teeth, as it combines a titanium body with a unique zirconia collar in one seamless component.

“This innovative design encourages the soft tissue to heal around the implant in a manner that closely resembles natural gingival growth, thus preventing the metal components of the implant becoming visible through the gingiva.” For more information regarding the Z1® implant, visit www.tbr.dental/eng

References:

1] Wyatt T. D. (2015) The search for human pheromones: the lost decades and the necessity of returning to first principles. Proc Biol Sci. 282(1804): 20142994. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2994. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375873/. [Last accessed: 14.08.19].

2] Wedekind, S., Seebeck, T., Bettens, F. and Paepke, A. J. (1995) MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Proc Biol Sci. 260(1359): 245-249. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0087.

3] Lobmaier, J. S., Fischbacher, U., Wirthmüller, U. and Knoch, D. (2018) The scent of attractiveness: levels of reproductive hormones explain individual differences in women’s body odour. Proc Biol Sci. 285(1886): 20181520. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1520.

4] Collins, S. A. (2000) Men’s voices and women’s choices. Animal Behaviour. 60(6): 773-780. DOI: 10.1006/anbe.2000.1523.

5] Collins, S. A. and Missing, C. (2003) Vocal and visual attractiveness are related in women. Animal Behaviour. 65(5): 997-1004. DOI: 10.1006/anbe.2003.2123.

6] Pardo J. S. (2013) Measuring phonetic convergence in speech production. Frontiers in Psychology. 4: 559. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00559. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753450/. [Last accessed: 14.08.19].

7] Byrne, D. (1997) An Overview (and Underview) or Research and Theory within the Attraction Paradigm. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 14(3): 417-431. DOI: 10.1177/0265407597143008.

8] Little, A. C. (2014) Domain Specificity in Human Symmetry Preferences: Symmetry is Most Pleasant When Looking at Human Faces. Symmetry. 6(2): 222-233. DOI: 10.3390/sym6020222.

9] Rhodes, G., Yoshikawa, S., Palermo, R., Simmons, L. W., Peters, M., Lee, K., Halberstadt, J. and Crawford, J. R. (2007) Perceived health contributes to the attractiveness of facial symmetry, averageness, and sexual dimorphism. Perception. 36: 1244-1252. DOI: 10.1068/p5712.

10] Mesko, N. and Bereczkei, T. (2004) Hairstyle as an adaptive means of displaying phenotypic quality. Human Nature. 15(3): 251-270. DOI: 10.1007/s12110-004-1008-6.

11] Otta, E., Abrosio, F. F. E. and Hoshino, R. L. (1996) Reading a Smiling Face: Messages Conveyed by Various Forms of Smiling. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 82(Suppl 3): 1111-1121. DOI: 10.2466/pms.1996.82.3c.1111.

Photos by Ivana Cajina, John Torcasio, Fabio Spinelli and Mbalimbali on Unsplash