The Science of Attraction (Part 1)
Pat Wright recently moved to Florida to begin a new chapter in her life. She was single, available, and ready to meet someone special. However, she was quickly confronted by a problem many women in her situation face. How do you start dating again?
Pat really never dated much. She married at 21 and by 26 she was a mother of three. Unfortunately, by the time she was 30 she was the single mother of three. As a busy mother, Pat didn’t have time for make-up, manicures, or monthly haircuts. Most days she opted for a touch of mascara, and a ponytail. When she went back to work, her ponytail was traded in for a short easy cut. She was attractive, but after becoming a wife, she turned off the “I’m available” sign. Then, after her divorce, she made a conscious decision to keep the not available signal going, deferring dating until the kids were grown.
Time passed, she went back to school, succeeded in work and raised her brood. To the outside world her life was a success, but she lacked a partner share it with. Now in her mid-forties, Pat is trying to reenter the dating scene, but it’s been so long that she doesn’t know where to start. How do you go from the big neon sign of “No Vacancy,” to the new sign that says, “Come and get me, boys?”
One of the first things you want to do to restart the signal is to work on getting noticed. Pat, like many women, has been comfortable blending into the background. But, now that she’s ready to bring on the wooing, she needs to step out from the shadows and take center stage. Take a look at the picture above. Can you tell me the sex of each face?
Most people quizzed tended to respond that the face on the right was male, while the face on the left was female. But is this correct? The answer is, that it’s exactly the same face. The only difference is coloring. Even in these black and white photos a slight bit of coloring sends a completely different signal.
Professor Richard Russell at Gettysburg College, found that a few small changes can send an unconscious cue that can enhance attraction. Russell results suggest that cosmetics may function in part by exaggerating a sexually dimorphic attribute to make the face appear more feminine and attractive. Russell states, “Making the eyes and lips darker without changing the surrounding skin increases the facial contrast. Femininity and attractiveness are highly correlated, so making a face more feminine also makes it more attractive.” Therefore, now that Pat wants to signal that she is open for dating, an easy place to begin is at the cosmetic counter. The great thing is that most department stores have a beauty counter that gives complementary makeovers and advice. A touch of eye shadow and a dab of lipstick will put Pat one step closer to meeting that someone special.
Check back next week as we discuss what colors and locations to choose and what messages each can send.