Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Sexual attraction is evolution’s engine. It urges us to find a partner, procreate and help continue the species. But what is driving that engine? What can influence it? It seems that a simple gaze is enough, at least in part, to do it. A team of researchers from the University of Rochester and Israeli Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) found that the way we look at others can be influenced by sexual stimuli. As they explain in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, being in a “sexy frame of mind,” being aroused, predisposes one to see potential partners as more attractive and reduces the fear of being rejected. In fact, they explain that this influences the way we view another and more easily lead to a romantic encounter.

This idea came to light after a series of experiments conducted on a group of 20 to 30-year-old heterosexuals, who were asked to evaluate potential partners after having been sexually activated to various degrees. By doing this the researchers put the participants into what they were calling a “sexy frame of mind.” To do this, the researchers exposed them to sexual non-pornographic, stimuli (such as hugging, or videos of couples kissing or talking intimately) and observed their behaviour during live and online interactions with potential partners.

The sexual stimulus, the sexy frame of mind, caused the men to see the other person as more attractive, thereby making them more interested. In addition, it made them believe the other person was also interested, even to the point of being wrong and over evaluating the perceived interest from the other. Harry Reis of the University of Rochester and one of the paper’s authors explains, “The sexual stimuli do more than just motivate to find a partner. They even allow us to project our own feelings on the other person.” It is as though our perceptions are being conditioned by this sexual mental state, added Gurit Birnbaum from the IDC, and the head of the study adds that it is as though our perceptions are being conditioned by this sexual mental state which favours the development of contact and connection.

“Clearly, the sexual system does all this in order to create interest in the potential partner, which in its own way also influences the perception of interest of the potential partner towards oneself.”

HFTHQ 20-51

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