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Looks aren't everything but love, it would seem, is far from blind. Across cultures and sexes, some features hold greater appeal. And while striking faces may sometimes be drop-dead gorgeous, studies have shown we are generally drawn to Mr or Ms Average, whatever our culture.
According to scientists including Professor Randy Thornhill from the University of New Mexico, average features could be a of genetic diversity and good health. But is there such a thing as a "type"? Women with feminine features, such as a smaller chin and fuller lips, tend to be deemed more appealing by both sexes, Saxton tells me, but preferences for male features are far from clear-cut. So a disaster date might genuinely be a case of right person, wrong time. But it is possible to disrupt the trend. It seems the suggestion of heroics could also fuel a romance.
A study conducted by researchers at Liverpool and Stirling Universities recruited women and 64 men, asking one group to assess images of the opposite sex with digitally added facial scars while another group viewed blemish-free mug shots. The upshot was that women rated slight scarring in a man's face marginally more attractive when considering a short-term fling — Woman want real sex Andrews Indiana viewed scarring in women with indifference.
The researchers say that scarring may be read by women as a of masculinity, courage and strength. But whether or not you are looking for Indiana Jones, good health is a key quality and once again there may be subtle, chemical cues. In researchers at St Andrews University asked 54 people to digitally tweak the hue of a selection of male and female Caucasian faces to make them look "healthy", finding that a light yellow tint and pink flush is perceived to be indicative of the hale and hearty. Follow-up collaborative studies supported the view that yellow colouring is deemed more attractive across cultures, and suggested that an increase in the intake of carotenoid pigments, such as those found in fruit and veg, may increase this yellow tint, although other influences can't be ruled out.
But, hot or not, your date has only just begun and it's time to make that opening gambit. It turns out, that it is not just what you say, but the way that you say it that flags up a successful date.
One such indicator appears to be the use of function words such as personal pronouns, articles and conjunctions. Ireland and her colleagues studied how such words are used by heterosexual men and women by examining 40 speed dates, using special computer programs to analyse the speakers' language. The study found that speed dating couples were more likely to mutually wish to see each other again if their language style matched better.
So if your date is speaking in a detached fashion, using "the", "it" and "that" often but you are throwing in plenty of "I" and "we", then chances are there is no point swapping s. And while talking a lot may point to a good date, Ireland says their study showed it wasn't the strongest factor.
According to Ireland it isn't an easy effect to fake — not only is it difficult to consciously pick up on function words but it is also tricky to deliberately manipulate them. Speed-dating also threw up Woman want real sex Andrews Indiana interesting observations for researchers at Stanford University who studied more than heterosexual dates to work out what makes people click.
After analysing voice-recordings from the dates, they found that for couples who reported "clicking", both the men and the women seemed excited. The men varied their volume and laughed more; while women changed both their loudness and pitch. And while women preferred men who spoke loudly, sympathised with them and interrupted them, both men and women preferred it when the woman made herself the focus of the conversation.
But perhaps it is best to avoid grilling your date. And bad news chaps — if you're looking for a lady it could be tough. Women were found to report clicking less frequently than men. If the date works out, a kiss may be on the cards. It's a crucial moment that could fan the flames or snuff out the spark. And the clues you are picking up, he says, are genetic. These major histocompatibility complex MHC genes are vital in determining how resistant you are to diseases, and have been found to influence the odour of fluids such as saliva, urine and sweat.
In a study conducted by Claus Wedekind from the University of Lausanne, nearly 50 female participants were asked to sniff T-shirts worn for two nights by men and rate the attractiveness of the whiff. The showed that the women preferred the odour of T-shirts worn by men with a dissimilar MHC type. While you may look for similarities with your date, when it comes to MHC genes, genetic variety is the spice of life as offspring are likely to have a wider diversity of immune-system genes, enabling them to fight of a host of maladies. But how can you tell all this from a kiss? Once again oral contraceptives can cause confusion, with studies including those by Craig Roberts at Stirling University showing that women taking the pill seem to prefer men with similar MHC type.
Kissing or sniffing can also help you pick up on other als. While kissing is common to many cultures other customs, such as "rubbing noses", can also yield such crucial information. But, Dunbar says, the description is misleading.
They are smelling the smell. But don't worry if your date is doused in perfume or aftershave. A study of men and women by Wedekind and Manfred Milinski found that preference for certain scents appears to be correlated with the wearer's MHC genotype. And the sizing up process doesn't stop there. Waist-to-hip ratios in women, waist-to-shoulder ratios in men and even hairiness are all being judged over the evening.
But if your chemistry clicks, your mouse may never need to click again.
The Observer Dating. How chemistry decides the success of a first date. You have spent weeks trawling through monotonous profiles and blurry selfies to finally find someone who shares your love of travel, Proust and Morris dancing. But will the chemistry be there when you meet face to face? By this point they would have smelled each other deeply. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive.
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